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By JOHN {/OSS ar»c(
{//RGfNfA S. etfERT



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William G. StRATTON, Governor

Vera M. BiNKS, Director

THORNE Deuel, Museum Director




John Voss


Virginia S. Eifert


Springfield, Illinois

First Printing, 195 1
Second Printing. 1960 (revised)




M. M. Leighton, Ph.D.. D.Sc. Chairman
Illinois Geological Survey. Urbana

N. W. McGee. Ph.D.
North Central College,

Sol Tax, Ph.D.. Secretary
University of Chicago.

Everett P. Coleman, M.D.
The Coleman Clinic,

Percival Robertson, Ph.D.,
The Principia College, Elsah


Vol. I Leaves and Stems from Fossil Forests.

By Raymond E. Janssen. 2nd printing. 1957. Paper
covers. $2.50.

Vol. II Birds in Your Back Yard.

By Virginia S. Eifert. 2nd edition. 1946. Cloth covers.


Vol. Ill Illinois Wild Flowers.

By John Voss and Virginia S. Eifert. 2nd printing.
1960. Paper covers.

Vol. IV Distributional Check List of the Birds of Illinois.

By Harry R. Smith and Paul W. Parmalee. 1955.
Paper covers. $ .25.

Vol. V Reptiles of Illinois.

By Paul W. Parmalee. 1955. Paper covers. $ .50.


(20794— IVl'M— 7-60)


John Voss died in his native city of Peoria at the age of 53, leaving
these photographs of native wild flowers of Illinois as a legacy to the
lovers of the out-of-doors throughout the state. He was a thoroughly
trained plant ecologist and he carried his scientific knowledge into the
woodlands and prairies where the wild flowers grew, liy his skill as a
photographer he brought back from the forest and the lields the beauties
of nature. His collection of floral portraits was inconiplcte when illness
and death came to close his activities.

(.Ikouue D. Fuller

John Voss, Ph.D.


ILLINOIS WILD FLOWERS is a representative, though not com-
plete, collection of photographs of our native wild flowers, most of which
wore made by Doctor John \'oss. They are arranged according to sea son,
beginning with the opening of the earliest flowers in the year — a period
\\ hicli may be winter one day and spring the next, yet is neither. Then
come the abundant flowers of the spring woods and swamps. This is the
first peak of abundant bloom; during the blossoming season there are
several such peaks. By early June there is a waning. The early flowers
are past; they are making seeds, storing food in roots and bulbs; the
leaves in many are turning yellow. By June, flowers are coming to fields
and roadsides and there are few or none to be found in woods where
shade is deep.

During the summer, the majority of flowers bloom in the broad
and sunny places. The saiidy wastes, the swamps, the uplands, the fields,
the roadsides, all have flowers. A peak of bloom comes in mid-summer,
then it wanes, then rises to a climax in late August and Septeml)er when
the flowers of the prairie roadsides are at their best. The forests now
have their second great burst of bloom as the woodland goldenrods, asters,
snakeroots, Joe-pye weed, bellflower, and many others blossom. Then the
season wanes, yet blossoming does not entirely cease until the weather
is below freezing. The un(|uenchable chickweed may be found in bloom
at any month in the year. The witch hazel blooms in September, October,
and Novenfl)er as the last spectacular flower of the year.

The flowers which are found from one end of Illinois to the other
cover a distance of about four hundred miles. This stretch of latitude is
equivalent to that lying between Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and
Portsmouth, Virginia, and the plants vary almost as much as those grow-
ing from New Hampshire to Virginia. Illinois has northern wild flowers;
it has southern wild flowers; it has flowers from the western plains;
flowers native to the east. The combination is unique ; no other state can
claim the exact mixture and resultant magnificence in wild flowers. Its
flowers are as individual and as much a part of the character of Illinois
as the trees, cities, farms, and animals of the Prairie State.

"Illinois Wild Flowers" was made possible through tlio kindness
and assistance of Doctor George D. Fuller, whose critical comments and
additions to the numuscript are highly valued; Doctor Blanche JMcAvoy,
Illinois State Nornurl University, for reading and criticizing a portion
of the manuscript; Doctor Glen Winterringer, assistant botanist at the
Illinois State Museum for help in identifying plants; Herman Eifert for
assistance in collecting additional plants to be photographed : and to
photographers EusseirCarter (on pp. 54, 131, 177, 185, 193, 208, 209,
221, 226, 230) ; Charles Hodge (on pp. 54, 131, 208) ; Gilbert Wright
(on pp. 228, 233) : and V. S. Eifert (on pp. 29, 57, 121, 167, 179, 184,
194, 196, 197, 202, 203. 210. 216, 219, 220. 222, 223, 224, 225, 227, 231,
232, 234, 235, 236) for additions to John Voss's collection to fill gaps
in the seasonal sequence. To all of these and more, the author and the
Illinois State Museum offer grateful thanks.

Because the flowei's in this l)ook ap]M'ar according to season and time
of bloom, a check list ot plants found here, aiTanged according to families
in the Flora of Illinois by G. N. Jones, is included (pp. 238-245) for
those familiar with th(M'r scientific names.

Virginia S. Eifert
1 April 1951


Symplocarpus foetidus (L.) Nutt.

Early spring Crisp and colorful and oi'iiamental, the skunk cabbage
Swamps pushes through the spring mud of the swamp and blos-

soms in the weak sunlight of March. There is wry beauty
in this flower and its leaves; it is not the beauty of a rose or a lily, nor
of any sweet, sunlit thing. But this is the rhythm of an art feeling ex-
pressed in coiled, lettuce-green leaves and ivory midribs, in mottled,
purple-red-brown, shell-shaped flowers with no stems to lift them above
the mud. Just as there is nothing like the jack-in-the-pulpit, so is there
nothing at all like the skunk cabbage before the woods awake to spring.

The skunk cabbage in northern Illinois comes into being often before
tlie redwinged blackbirds have come back to the marsh. Skunk cabbage
precedes robins and blue])irds by many days, and is so far ahead of the
other spring flowers that it usually is well out of bloom before the spring
l)eauties or the bloodroot blossom.

Skunk cabbage is an Arum. The typical shape is there — the stout
spadix- enclosed in a cupped sheath. On the spadix are borne the small
true flowers which are visited by the earliest insects. The stout, squat
"flower" emerges dni-kly and ruddily i'rom the mud and emits a strange
carrion odor. In a lew days the folded, pale green, waxen leaves pierce
the mud and stand in a tiglit gToup beside the flowers. Then as spring
advances, the skunk cal)bage odor subsides. The flowers shrivel. The
leaves grow tall and spread wide on tall petioles, like pale green, glossy
burdock lea.ves. liy midsunnnci- the skunk cabbage is known by those
knee-high, clumps of great caladium-like leaves; known, too, when the
leaves are l)roken, by the strong odor of mustard plaster and onion. It
is as staunch an odor as that carrion smell of early spring, or as the
perfume of the skunk itself on a summer evening.

SNOW TRILLIUM (Early Wake Robin)
Trillium nivale Riddell
Early spring It is tlic first day of spring and it feels like it.

Hilly woods, cliffs Although in March the Illiuois landscape in gen-
eral still has the e:rev look of winter, the silver
niajjles are in hloom, hees have found them, willows have a ruddy look,
the wind actually has a llavor on the tongue, and the voices of the
meadowlarks surely are all nnc needs to acknowledge the reality of spring.
They and the small white snow trilliums on a cool limestone cliff ahove
the river.

Snow trilliums arc one of the first llowcrs to hloom. hut they usually
grow in such high, wild spots, that ]U)t many folk who follow the
])rogre.><s of s])ring ever see them when they hloom. For snow trillimns
must have hilly woods; limestone cliffs are favorite haunts. The little
ti-illiums are si-attercd — some on the cliffs ahove the Illinois river; in
Ki(ka|i(»(> \'allcy in Peoria county; at Funk's Grove near Bloomington;
on a hill near Lake S])ringrield; at Starved Kock; on the hills along the
.Mississi]tpi hctwcen Hamilton and Xauvoo, all the way north to Galena —
trilliums here and tiiere in isolated connnunities of llowcrs.

Jiut they are an essential item in the lists of spring.

Snow trilliums seldom grow more than three to six inches high, on
smooth. ])inkish to green st(Mns. There arc three dark green, ohiong leaves
spreading in a neat triangle at the top of the stem. Extending from the
e.xact center springs a slim llower stalk with one hud. This o))ens pre-
ci.><ely to show three white ])etals, three green sepals, and six pale yellow
stamens. That is the snow trillium.

It l)l(X)ms in Mareh and early April, sets .seeds, and disap])ears until
the following March. Then again, here and there in Illinois, rare little
white trilliums poke up through fallen oak leaves on the north sides of
rocky hills and show the ])roper trillium plan-of-three hefore spring is
verv far advanced.



Carex pennsylvanica Lam.

Early spring As efficiently and as completely as any blossom of the
Woods springtime, the inconspicuous flowers of spring sedge

open in the sunshine of early April. The sedge is not
often noticed; frequently it is passed by as "grass". It has no petals, no
beautiful flo\\er as flowers are rated as beautiful, yet the blossoming of
the spring sedge marks the beginning of a seasonal era as definite as the
change which came between glacial times and the interglacial periods.
The coming of spring sedge, often before other flowers bloom, is a sign
that winter officially is over and spring now may make its scheduled

Spring in Illinois is never a settled thing, never a time in which
one may put hisi finger upon a day and say, "Now spring begins." But
when the spring sedge l)looms in the sandy woods, then at least the blos-
soming time is inaugurated, and this sets off the period from winter,
when bloom is not the accepted thing.

Carex 'pennsylvanica gi'ows three to eight inches high in a tufted
clump of rather stiff, gi'ass-like leaves all springing from the ruddy
base. The flowering stalks come up thin and leafless and produce upon
their tips a cluster of bright, pale yellow stamens with ruddy scales
l)elow. or less ornamental pistillate stalks which make seeds. That is nil.
This is the beginning of spring. The sedge is in bloom.

Spring sedge is a menfl)er of a verv- extensive family, the Cyperaceac,
more than a thousand species of which have been named in the world.
Most of them are marsh-growing, wet-soil plants, but many are found in
moist woodlands and not a few tolerate dry ojien woods, among whicli is
the woods-growing spring sedge. It grows in dryish woodlands and on
violet banks when spring is on the land.


Rhus aromatica Ait.

Early spring In liiaidcd. ciitkin-likc heads, tlic l)iids of fragrant

Sandy woods .sumac stand stillly erect nii tlie dark hruwn twigs all
winter long. Then when March conies to the sand hills
and to the sandy roadsides and woods where the low tangles of fragrant
sumac thrive, the still' Inids suddenly loosen, expand, and become little
bouquets of bright, lemon-yellow flowers. They are abundant enougli to
cast a yellow glow upon a landscape only lately rescued from Minter.
The earliest insects flock to the odorous little llowers. The first mourning
cloak butterflies, clicking their dry dark wings through the pallid sun-
light in search of something sweet, find it here among the sumac bushes.

Later, the flowers are rejflaced. by clusters of bright red, shiny seeds
heavily studded with long white hairs and pale down; the fruits are food
for robins and other birds late in sunnner.

All sunnner long the leaves, which do not apjx^ir until well after
the flowers, are dark glossy green. They are aromatic when crushed, as
are the stems, and resemble in shape the ])oison ivy. The sumacs, in fact,
are closely kin to jjoison ivy. but there is no hint of that evil influence
in the fragrant sumac. Another veiy similar species, whose leaves are dis-
agi'ceably scented when cnished, is the ill-scented sumac.

Fragrant sumac has become much used in plantings around build-
ings, where its abundant flowers, long before most other plants bloom,
make, it a welcome addition to citv fjardens.

(Boys and Girls. Snowboysj

Dicentta cucullaria (L.) Bernh.

Early spring It may have all started with that first bloodroot flower
Woods on a day when the March sun turned seventy and the

wind was southerly. It may have started with snow
trilliums on a limestone hill that hadn't seen a beam of direct sunlight
since last summer. It may have started in a city park with spring beauties
which would bloom and be done long before the mowers clipped them
off. But it could not be officially spring until the dutchman's breeches

They start up exceedingly early — little curled-over, naked, pinkish
stems bent as if to protect the tiny unformed leaves. They grow, stretch,
take on gTeenness, and in an incredibly short time, as one reckons the
progress of growth in the year, there are lacy clumps of grey-green leaves
among the old brown oak leaves on the forest floor, and eacli clump in
a few days has tall stalks, of crisp, puft'y, white flowers. The shape of the
dutchman's breeches flowers is their greatest charm, though their faint
perfume is delightful and the loaves are truly beautiful. The flowers are
as if made in a mold, two lialves neatly put together with flaring bottom
and wide-spread top, hung tenuously on the thinnest of hair-fine stems
which attach them, each at a different slant, to the main stem.

Stems and leaves rise separately from the clusters of pink corm-roots
not far beneath the surface of the ground. There is really not much root
to account for all those leaves and flowers, just a climip of coral-pink
corms no bigger than a hickojy nut, lield fast by a few short white roots.
But in those conns there is enough strength to live through the winter,
and as early as the ground permits, to send up stems, foliage, and flowers.


Dicentra canadensis ( Goldie) Walp.

Early spring Tlie ricli black oarth of the old woods slope goes up
Woods and up to hci^lits of limestoiio. The earth is full of

limestone chips, w ith here and there a fragment of an
Indian arrowhead where a Hopewellian hunter lost it. The redbuds are
in bloom on the great wooded liill, all the way up to the limestone out-
eroppiugs, where shadbush clings like an alpine t)usb to the ledges and
flutters its tufts of wliitc l)l(X)m in the sunshine.

It is April and the dutchman's breeches are in bloom on all that soft
black-earth slope l)eneath the redbuds and s]vicel)ush. beneath the newly
leafing buckeyes ami the still bare oaks. Wild larkspur is here, purple
and pale blue and white; there are yellow violets, blue violets, red tril-
liums, bloodroot. And there rises an odor as of hyacinths, keen and splen-
did above the moist odors of the spring woods. Si|uiirel corn is blossom-
ing there.

At first it l)lends so well with the dutchman's breeches that one
actually may pass tht'in by as all one species. Then, as if the scene comes
more sharply into focus, there stand out the stiller stems of the squirrel
c(u-n with their tighter, narrower, pulled llowers, with tiieir longer, more
frilly wings l)elow. The leaves seem nnich the same as those of dutchman's
breeches, yet are more compact. And there is that jjcrfume. No dutch-
man's breeches ever had that fragrance, not that odor-of-hyacinths which
rises so strongly from the ivory flowers of the S(pnrrel corn, there on the
wo(Kle(l hill below the liiu(v<tone ledges.

Squirrel corn has a further diflerence. Instead of growing from pink
conns, it has several yellow conns which look very much like broad, round
little grains of yellow Indian cora.



Houstonia minima Beck

Early spring On the diy uplands, on those rolling, gravelly hills where
Open hills poverty grass denotes a kindred poverty of the soil, the

rare little hluets blossom in April. Although other bluets
(Houstonia coerulea) sometimes are found in northern Illinois and even
more commonly northward and eastward, this is the little southwestern
species which, further south in Missouri, covers sunny hills and pastures
with millions of tiny bright flowers. They are so abundant that the ground
is blue with beds of minute and beautiful blossoms.

We have two very similar Houstonias, very small, both with deep
purple flowers, both called "star-violets", and both are winter annuals.
They are Houstonia minima and Houstonia pusilJa. The fonner has the
longer calyx and grows on very dry ground. The j\Iuseum has collections
from several counties, mostly in the south and as far north as Eock
Island. The long-leaved houstonia (Houstonia longifolia) often reaches
a foot in height, has a many-branched, wiry stem, and small white flowers
with pointed, oval petals, and a tube which is longer than the petals. It
is found commonly in rocky or gravelly woods in late spring, and often
continues to bloom throughout the sununer.

Bluets are among the most delicate and channing of the spring
ilowers in any part of the country. The plant is only one to three inches
tall with tiny, bright green, oval leaves placed opposite each other on the
thready, weak stems. One flower grows at the tip of each stem ; sometimes
the stalk forks near the base, but usually it is straight, simple, and one-
llowered. The exquisite blossom, a quarter-inch wide, is four-parted and
tubular, the tube in this species no longer than the four spreading petals.
The flower is bright blue-lavender, clear blue. pur])l(\ white, or pale pink,
the center marked with four ]uir]ilo-rose flnts.


Draba reptans (Lam.) Fern.

Early spring .M(uc ili;iniati(. perhaps, than the frreatest sunflower or
Stony fields the most clcuaiit rose, are these three little plants of
whitlow The photograph was staged deliberately
to bring out that (juality of niiniature drama, lighted to emphasize the
smallness of the plants, their white llowcrs set off by the dark and inde-
terminate background. The small stems, the delicate flowers, the small
hairy leaves all are proof that even such may have strength to push
through a stony place and grow, and blossom, and make fruit.

Whitlow grass comes (>arly and its blossoming is not announced in
the press or talked about with the delight of those finding violets. Few
people know when the whitlow grass blooms; few know when its time is
over. But in the stony fields and rooky places of Illinois, the Carolina
whitlow grass, in tiny majesty, fullills its annual meeting with the spring.

It comes in March. The little rosettes of small, grey-green, fum-
leaves remained there all winter among the stones, and now quickly in
the damp chill days ot March the thin little downy stems push up, ]»er-
haps to the enonnous height of two or three inehes, seldom or never more
than that, open their four-peta,led white flowers and hastily make seeds
in pods reminiscent of radish pods. AVhitlow grass and radishes are both
in llie ^lustard family.

Whitlow grass is not an important })lant. not an especially beautiful
one except for the beauty of any small, jx^fect thing successfully and
efficiently perfonning its life cycle. It is there as part of the verj- early
spring, often before the more conspicuous wild flowers bloom, and that
is enough.


Sanguinatia canadensis L.

Early spring In the. hill woods above the river the oaks and hickories

Woods look down on the new life which has burst over night

from the leaf-strewn floor of the forest.

Here are bloodroot flowers sparkling pure white in the sun, flowers
which are brief and bright and beautiful, flowers which come early and
quickly go. All Avinter they lay quiescent and frozen beneath the surface
of the earth, lay beneath the protecting cover of old oak leaves which
year after year soften and crumble and are added to the richness and
looseness of the soil. Under this, in tight fat buds, in stout, crisp root-
stocks, the bloodroot flowers and leaves in miniature were stored all

Now a day which brings out a hibernating mourning cloak buttei'fly
from behind a shag of hickory bark and wakens the cricket frogs in the
marsh se^-s clumps or masses of bloodroot in bloom.

The plants push up quickly, pale gi'ey-gi'een veiny leaves wrapped
around the pale pink stem with the pearly white bud at the top. Quickly,
after a spring rain, the stem extends al)ove the curled leaf which unfolds
broadly at last. The pearl of a bud, which now is like a white egg on the
tip of the juicy stem, opens with eight white petals and a yellow center.
A day, and then one by one the white petals droj) to tlie moss and the
seed pod begins immediately to form. By summer the bloodroot has com-
pletely disappeared, its gi'owth done, food stored in the root, a plant
formed in miniature in the bud, ready for winter and next spring.

The root of bloodroot is thick, dai'k red-ljrown, gnarled, and when
it is cut it exudes a ruddy juice which looks much like thin blood. The
upper parts of the plant contain a yellowish juice wliich shows the blood-
root's kinship with tlic [xippv, to wliicli it is closely related.


Claytonia virginica L.

Early spring Si)rin<i: beauties are among those abundant spring blos-
Woods soms which carpet the woods in April. That mass of

white llowers is mainly spring beauties with a mixture
ol tiuLil lilies, toothwort, and anemones — a brief, dancing, delightful
throng. It is a transient transformation of the forest lloor into a va^t
flower bed. Of them all, the spring beauties in the carpeting are most
lavish in their blossoming.

The thin, pink, watery stems spring from small, hairy brown corms
in the ground. The stems and iirst leaves, red-brown and naked-looking,
come up often in February and even then show curled-over stems of Hower
buds. They seem able to survive the severest weather, and in late ^larch
and early A])ril, when the nuiurning cloak butterflies are out and migrant
hermit thrushes are back in tlie wood.s, the spring beauties suddenly
bloom. Tiny begin wiili ;i s(;ittering of exciting white flowers on a sunny
south slo[)e. Tlu'y continue hurriedly on the early mild days with a
blanketing of llowers all over the woods.

Kach ilower has live pinkish or white petals bearing bright red hair-
lines, guide lines for insects which come to glean the earliest nectar and
at the same time ])ollinate the llowers. As each Ilower witliers, it bends
over on its ])liabl(^ stem and curls l)eneath th(> Ilower cluster while the
seeds form. By June tlierc are no more s})ring beauty plants in the woods
— they have come up, liave blossomed, made their seeds, .sent food into
the conns, and liave disappeared until late next winter when the leaves
and Ilower buds, eoniidetelv formed, lise auain from the latelv frozen



(Adder's Tongue. Dog-tooth Violet)

Erythronium albidum Nutt.

Early spring Long before anything is in bloom in the Illinois oak
Woods woods, the close mats of moss and bare ground and leaf-

strewn woods floor contain small red. spears thrusting
into the sunlight. There are hundreds of them, thousands of them, tight
and naiTow and sbarply pointed, poking u]j from deeply set bulbs in the
cold earth of very early springtime. The trout lilies are about to keep
appointment with the spring.

With the scant warmth of March and early April, the shoots grow-
rapidly and in a few days the red color is gone and the shoots have un-
furled into pairs of pale green leaves decoratt'd with ])ale purple-brown
mottlings overlaid with a silvery sheen.

There is one bud stalk to a plant, two leaves to a blossoming size

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