This is the 37th of 50 Days of Chicago Nature. Read previous posts here.
James Woodworth Prairie isn't a typical prairie. For starters, a fast food restaurant sits on the southern border of the 5-acre parcel. But it also stands out for ecological reasons, as it is considered a Grade A prairie with undisturbed black soil. There's little of that remaining locally.
"It's a very diverse site," says Erin Faulkner, who's been conducting research and assisting with prairie management at the prairie since 2002. "We've done vegetation surveys and in a quarter square meter there are up to 20 species."
The prairie, located in the North Suburbs and owned by the University of Illinois at Chicago, will be featured on Saturday morning during a virtual event with the Illinois Native Plant Society's Northeast Chapter. What had been intended to be an in-person walk will be broadcast live on Facebook. The prairie will be in full bloom, and Erin will use a quadrat, a type of square frame, to lead an identification exercise of a small section of prairie.
"Everybody else is a big enough nerd that it will be fun," Erin says with a laugh. "It's a rich assemblage of spring flora on the prairie, and it's fun to see that before it gets really tall and crowds [the spring flora] out."
Join the Illinois Native Plant Society and Erin Faulkner, winner of Illinois Botany Big Year in 2018, on a virtual hike through James Woodworth Prairie on Saturday, May 30, at 10 a.m.