Coneflowers in Gobbler Ridge
Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida)
With its sharp coppery–orange cone spikes and its purple–pink drooping petals, this attractive native flower is a favorite on the prairie.
Coneflowers thrive in our sandy–loam soils and are especially plentiful the summer after a prescribed fire. They can bloom within two years of planting and provide a marvelous sight while other flowers species are still maturing.
The pale purple coneflower is a very showy flower, especially when planted in mass or with other flowers of contrasting color. This view looks eastward over the Gobbler Ridge unit at Clear Creek Knolls. Volunteer stewards, Bernie & Cindy Buchholz, planted this stretch of prairie in 2011. To read more about their decade of successful restorations, scroll to page 3 in the 2015 Prairie Smoke, the annual stewardship report for Nachusa Grasslands.
After 10 years of meticulous clearing, harvesting, planting, and invasive weed control, Gobbler Ridge and the Fame Flower unit are among the preserve’s highest quality restorations.
Many wildlife species benefit from the pale purple coneflower. The nectar in the blooms attract insects, such as butterflies and many native bees, while the birds (particularly Goldfinches) enjoy the seeds in the cone.
Hiking is encouraged throughout the Gobbler Ridge unit, with access from the Clear Creek Knolls parking lot. To find the entrance, look along the east side of Lowden Road, just south of Flagg Road. Hike east along the mowed lanes or walk into the prairie off–trail. Before hiking off–trail, you may want to read “What to expect off–trail” on our Hiking Guidelines website page.
The Thelma Carpenter unit is another nice spot in the preserve to see coneflowers. This hike is best reached from the visitor kiosk by taking Lowden Road north, then Stone Barn Road east and finally south on Carthage Road. There is pull–off parking in the grass. Please do not block any gates or roads. Hike along the mowed trails or hike up the hill (no trail) from the entrance sign. Visit our Hiking Destinations website page for more information.
Enjoy this early summer native flower!
Today’s author is Dee Hudson, a photographer and volunteer for Nachusa Grasslands. To see more prairie images, visit her website at www.deehudsonphotography.com.
Summer Crew of 2016
Every summer Nachusa hires a seasonal crew to tackle weed season. The crew will spend all day spraying, spading, and pulling invasive weeds as well as doing every other odd job. This year's six individuals have already proved themselves to be hardworking and enthusiastic. Looks like it's going to be a productive summer!
My name is Jessica Fliginger and I recently graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Biology. As part of the summer crew, I want to strengthen my plant identification and restoration skill sets, gain valuable field work experience, and explore my ecological interests. Next year, I plan on applying to graduate school and I hope this helps prepare me for that.
I attended Northern Illinois University and there I joined the Committee for the Preservation of Wildlife. Then I came out here to the prairie at Nachusa and it was beautiful. Within the next couple of years I worked at Byron Forest Preserve learning more about the prairie ecosystem. I've been fascinated ever since.
I currently attend the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, majoring in Wildlife Ecology. My passion is learning more about big game animals, but I love learning about prairie restoration! The reason I am at Nachusa Grasslands is to get great on–the–job–experience for future jobs.
I am a junior at Eureka College pursuing a career in Wildlife Ecology. Nachusa Grasslands offers a great opportunity to gain knowledge and experience within the field, which will be useful for the years to come!
I am an Environmental Studies major at Northern Illinois University and plan to work on the crew for the spring, summer and fall seasons. I have been doing restoration for over three years and look forward to continuing that work here at Nachusa.
I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology this spring and plan to begin a master's program in Ecology in 2017. At Nachusa, I wish to continue learning from the community and contributing toward their restoration projects.
Today's author is Leah Kleiman.
I am a nature photographer, a freelance graphic designer, and steward at Nachusa's Thelma Carpenter Prairie. I have taken photos for Nachusa since 2012.
I have been a high school French teacher, registered piano technician, and librarian. In retirement I am a volunteer historian at Lee County Historical and Genealogical Society.
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