List of Native Prairie Plants for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois.
This is Part 1. Scientific Names A - H

Go to Part 2. Scientific Names I - Z

Developed for the Corridors for Tomorrow Project"

Kenneth R. Robertson
Center for Biodiversity
Illinois Natural History Survey
607 East Peabody Drive
Champaign, IL 61820 USA

Return to Ken Robertson's homepage

Scientific Name
Common Name
Natural Habitat in Illinois1
Regions of Illinois Where Native2
Ultimate Height3
Pollinator Type and Insect Visitors4
Fruit Type5
Wildlife Attracted6
Special Features7
Establishment8
Adaptability8
Allium canadense
wild onion
mesic prairies; dry woods; disturbed areas
N, C, S
0.5-1.5'
Diptera
capsules with black seeds
small mammals
not competitive with grasses
moist stratification of seeds
does not favor dry or sandy areas
Allium cernuum
nodding onion
dry, mesic, wet prairies
N
1-2'
Diptera
capsules with black seeds
small mammals
not competitve with grasses
probably similar to A. canadensis

Allium stellatum
cliff onion
hill and gravel prairies; barrens
C, S
0.5-1'
Diptera
capsules with black seeds
small mammals

probably similar to A. canadensis

Amorpha canescens
leadplant
sand, hill, gravel, prairied; dry to mesic prairies; rocky open woodlands
N, C, S
1.5-3'
long-tongued bees (10), short-tongued bees (15), other Hymenoptera (16), Diptera (4)
small one seeded legume
butterfly larvae, bees
nitrogen fixing; attractive purple flowers and foliage
easy from scarified, innoculated, and moist stratified seed
strong survivor, deep taproot
Andropogon gerardii
big bluestem
hill, sand prairies; wet to mesic prairies; barrens
N, C, S
4-8'
wind
hairy grain
small mammals, songbirds
fall color; excellent nesting cover
easy from dry stratified seeds
prefers wet areas, but adapts well
Anemone canadensis
meadow anemone
mesic to wet prairies; open woodlands; calcareous or alluvial soils
N, C
1-2'
bees, syrphid flies
cottony plumed achene


very easy by division, root cuttings, or seed
large colonies form quickly
Anemone cylindrica
thimbleweed
hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; open woods
N, C
1-1.5'
bees, syrphid flies
cottony plumed achene


easily propagated from dry stratified seed

Anemone patens
pasque flower
gravel hill prairies
N
0.5-1'
bees, syrphid flies
cottony plumed achene

pretty spring flowers
best propagated from fresh or dry stratified seed
does not tolerate shade competition; will not tolerate water logged soil
Apocynum sibiricum
Indian hemp
dry, mesic, or wet prairies; rocky or sandy habitats; rocky woods
N, C, S
3'
long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, other Hymenoptera
follicle with hairy seeds

seed fluff used in bird's nests


Aquilegia canadensis
columbine
prairie edges; rocky woods; sandy areas
N, C, S
2'
hummingbirds
follicles with shiney black seeds
hummingbirds
beautiful orange-red flowers
easily propagated from scarified and dry stratified seeds
adapts to various habitats
Arabis glabra
tower mustard
mesic prairies; limestone woods, ledges and cliffs
N, C, S
2-4'
long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, other Hymenoptera, Diptera
slender siliques



rather weedy
Asclepias hirtella
tall green milkweed
dry and sand prairies
N, C, S
2'
Diptera, bees
follicles with hairy seeds
butterflies, songbirds

easily propagated from dry stratified seed

Asclepias incarnata
swamp milkweed
wet ditches, marshes, bogs
N, C, S
3-6'
Diptera, bees
follicles with hairy seeds
butterflies, songbirds

easily propagated from dry stratified seed

Asclepias sullivantii
prairie milkweed
mesic prairies
N, C, S
2-5'
long-tongued bees (12), short-tongued bees (6), other Hymenoptera (42), Diptera (8), Lepidoptera (15), Coleoptera (3)
follicles with hairy seeds
butterflies, songbirds

easy from dry stratified seeds

Asclepias syriaca
common milkweed
dry to mesic prairies; roadsides; often weedy
N, C, S
3-4'
long-tongued bees (11), other Hymenoptera (4), Diptera (3), Lepidoptera (7)
follicles with hairy seeds
butterflies, songbirds
thrives along roadsides
easily propagated from dry stratified seed

Asclepias tuberosa
butterfly-weed
dry or sandy prairies; savannas
N, C, S
1-2'
long-tongued bees (15), short-tongued bees (6), other Hymenoptera (12), Diptera (14), Lepidoptera (8), Coleoptera (1), Hemioptera (4)
follicles with hairy seeds
butterflies, songbirds, hummingbirds
thrives along roadside; attractive color
easy from dry stratified seedsand root cuttings

Asclepias verticillata
horsetail milkweed
hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies; roadsides; open soil; dry woods
N, C, S
1-1.5'
long-tongued bees (5), short tongued bees (1), other Hymeonptera (4), Diptera (1), Lepidoptera (8)
follicles with hairy seeds
butterflies, songbirds

transplant seedlings

Aster azureus
sky-blue aster
hill and sand prairies; moist to dry prairies; dry open woods
N, C, S
1-4'
long-tongued bees (10), short-tongued bees (10), other Hymenoptera (32), Diptera (16), Lepidoptera (3)
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, small mammals

easy from dry stratified seed

Aster ericoides
heath aster
hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; degraded prairies; colonizing species
N, C, S
1-3'
probably similar to A. ericoides
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, small mammals
soil forming
easy from dry stratified seed
often found along dry roadsides
Aster laevis
smooth aster
mesic to dry prairies; woods
N, C, S
1-3'
long-tongued bees (37), short-tongued bees (53), other Hymenoptera (54), Diptera (119), Lepidoptera (30), Coleoptera (6), Hemiptera (3)
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, small mammals

easy from seed

Aster novae-angliae
New England aster
mesic to wet prairies; degraded prairies; colonizing species
N, C, S
1-4'
probably similar to A. ericoides
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, small mammals
extremely aggressive
easy from seeds, moist stratification improves germination
adjusts to dry soil
Aster pilosus
hairy aster
hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; degreaded prairies; disturbed areas
N, C, S
1-4'
long-tongued bees (13), short-tongued bees (7), Diptera (11), Lepidoptera (10)
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, small mammals

probably similar to A. novae-angliae

Aster praealtus
willow aster
mesic prairie
N, C, S
2-4'
probably similar to A. ericoides
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, small mammals

probably similar to A. novae-angliae

Aster ptarmicoides
white goldenrod
hill and sand prairies; dry prairies; calcareous bluffs
N, C
1-2'
probably similar to A. ericoides
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, small mammals

probably similar to A. novae-angliae

Baptisia leucantha
white wild indigo
mesic to wet prairies; savannas
N, C, S
2-4'
bumble bee workers
inflated legumes with hard seeds; seeds often parasitized by Bruchid beetles
bees
soil forming; nitrogen fixing; beautiful flowers; deep taproot
easy from scarified, inoculated and moist stratified seed
sturdy plant
Baptisia leucophaea
cream wild indigo
dry to mesic prairies
N, C, S
1-2.5'
bumble bee queens
inflated legumes with hard seeds; seeds often parasitized by Bruchid beetles
bees
soil forming; nitrogen fixing; beautiful flowers; seeds often parasitized; often acts like tumbleweed
easy from scarified, inoculated and moist stratified seed
prone to wind damage; does poorly on exposed soils
Blephilia ciliata
pagoda plant
mesic prairies; woods
N, C, S
1-3'
long-tongued bees (25), short-tongued bees (16), other Hymenoptera (4), Diptera (12), Lepidoptera (15)
tiny nutlets


seeds may be difficult to obtain

Boltonia asteroides
false aster
mesic prairies; gravelly shores; along streams; roadside ditches
N, C, S
1-3.5'
long tongued bees (21), short-tongued bees (20), other Hymenoptera (12), Diptera (60), Lepidoptera (20), Coleoptera (4), Hemiptera (1)
achenes with tufts of hair
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals



Bouteloua curtipendula
sideoats gramma
hill prairies; dry prairies; upland sites; calcareous soil
N, C, S
1-3'
wind
hairy grain
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals, ungulates
soil forming; forms attractive bunches; excellent nesting cover
easy from dry stratified seeds; moderately aggressive

Bromus kalmii
brome grass
dry to mesic calcareous prairies
N, C
1.5-3'
wind
grain
gamebirds, songbirds, samll mammals
excellent grass species; important nesting cover
very easy from seed

Cacalia tuberosa
Indian plantain
mesic to wet calcareous prairies
N, C, S
2-5'
hawk-moths, bees, hoverflies
achenes with tufts of hair


seeds may be difficult to obtain, and have low germination

Calystegia sepium
American bindweed
mesic soils; disturbed areas; fields; roadsides
N, C, S
3-7''
long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, other Hymenoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera
capsules with hard seeds




Camassia scilloides
wild hyacinth
mesic prairies; savannas; open woods
N, C, S
1-1.5'
insects
capsules with black seeds
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals

easy from seed and bulbs

Carex annectens
sedge
mesic prairies
N, C, S
2-3'
monoecious; wind
achenes
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
excellent nesting cover
easy from seed

Carex bicknellii
prairie sedge
dry to mesic prairies
N, C
1-2.5'
monoecious; wind
achenes
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
excellent nesting cover
easy from seed

Carex granularis
sedge
mesic to wet prairies; bottomland woods; streambanks
N, C, S
1-2'
monoecious; wind
achenes
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
excellent nesting cover
easy from seed

Carex gravida
sedge
mesic to wet prairies; swales, shores
N, C
1-3'
monoecious; wind
achenes
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
excellent nesting cover
easy from seed

Carex meadii
Mead's sedge
mesic to wet prairies
N, C, S
2'
monoecious; wind
achenes
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
excellent nesting cover
easy from seed

Carex molesta
sedge
moist to dry prairies; borders of woods
S
1-3'
monoecious; wind
achenes
gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
excellent nesting cover
easy from seed

Carex prairea
sedge
calcareous bogs and fens
C, S
1.5-3'
monoecious; wind
achenes
upland gamebirds, bees
excellent nesting cover
easy from seed

Cassia fasciculata
partridge pea
hill and prairies; dry, mesic, or wet prairies
N, C, S
2-3'
probably similar to C. marilandica
flat legumes with flat black seeds
upland gamebirds, bees, butterfly larvae
excellent nesting cover; nitrogen fixing

adapts to roadsides
Cassia marilandica
Maryland senna
dry prairies; roadsides; thickets
N, C, S
2-3'
long-tongued bees (1), ants (4), Coleoptera (1)
cylindrical legumes with plump black seeds
hummingbirds, ungulates, bees, butterfly larvae
excellent nesting cover; nitrogen fixing

adapts to roadsides
Castilleja coccinea
Indian paintbrush
dry, mesic, or wet prairies; usually sandy soils
N, C
1-2'
hummingbirds, insects
capsules with tiny seeds
ungulates, butterflies
parasitic associations
easy from seeds, difficult to transplant

Ceanothus americanus
New Jersey tea
hill and sand prairies; mesic to dry prairies; open woods
N, C, S
1.5-3'
long-tongued bees (6), short-tongued bees (18), other Hymenoptera (35), Diptera (42), Lepidoptera (2), Coleoptera (14), Hemiptera (4)

songbirds
important food source
low germination from seeds, improved germination from scarification, and soaked in hot water

Cirsium discolor
field thistle
dry to mesic prairies; fields; open woods; disturbed areas; weedy
N, C, S
3-5'
long-tongued bees (14), short-tongued bees (5), Diptera (2), Lepidoptera (9), Coleoptera (1)
achenes with tufts of hair
songbirds, butterflies
seed fluff used in nests
easy by seedling transplant

Claytonia virginica
spring beauty
mesic prairies; savannas; woods
N, C, S
3-5''
long-tongued bees (21), short-tongued bees (37), Diptera (35), Lepidoptera (9)
capsules with black seeds
small mammals
attractive spring flowers
easy by seed; spreads by rhizomes

Comandra umbellata
false toadflax
hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; open woods
N, C, S
0.5-1'
long-tongued bees (4), short-tongued bees (8), Diptera (28), Lepidoptera (2), Coleoptera (2)
small nut

parasitic associations; spreads by rhizomes and often forms dense stands
difficult because must be associated wih host plants

Coreopsis lanceolata
sand or tickseed coreopsis
hill and sand prairies; savannas
N, C, S
1-2'
probably similar to C. palmata
achenes
songbirds
little food value
easy from dry stratified seed

Coreopsis palmata
prairie coreopsis
hill prairies; mesic to dry prairies; open woods
N, C, S
1.5-3'
long-tongued bees (33), short-tongued bees (21), Diptera (30), Lepidoptera (14)
achenes
songbirds
little food value; often thrives along roadsides
easy from dry stratified seed, aggressive establisher

Coreopsis tripteris
tall tickseed
mesic to wet prariries; calcareous soil
N, C, S
3-7'
long-tongued bees (18), short-tongued bees (12), other Hymenoptera (10), Diptera (9), Lepidoptera (3), Coleoptera (1)
achenes
songbirds
flowers when not many other species are in bloom, providing pollen for pollinators
easy from dry stratified seed

Desmanthus illinoensis
Illinois mimosa, sensitive plant, or bundle flower
sand prairies; dry, mesic or wet prairies; along levees and railroads
N, C, S
3-6'
long-tongued bees
curved legumes
butterflies, quail, small mammals
nitrogen fixing; soil forming
easy by scarified, innoculated and stratified seed

Desmodium canadense
hoary tick trefoil
dry to mesic prairies; open woods
C, S
2-4'
long-tongued bees (6)
legumes broken into one seeded segments
butterflies, quail, small mammals
nitrogen fixing, soil forming, showy flowers
easy by scarified, innoculated and stratified seed

Desmodium illinoense
Illinois tick trefoil
dry, mesic, wet prairies; open woods
N, C, S
3-6'
long-tongued bees (7), short-tongued bees (1), Lepidoptera (1)
legumes broken into one seeded segments
butterflies, quail, small mammals
nitirogen fixing; soil forming; showy flowers
easy by scarified, innoculated and stratified seed

Dodecatheon meadia
shooting star
mesic prairies; woods
N, C, S
1'
long-tongued bees (8), Lepidoptera (1)
capsules with tiny seeds
small mammals, songbirds
showy spring flowers
easy by fresh or stratified seeds, and root division

Echinacea pallida
pale coneflower
hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies
N, C, S
2-3'
bumble bees, beetles
achenes
small mammals, songbirds
showy long lasting flowers
very easy from moist stratified seed; very aggressive

Echinacea purpurea
purple coneflower
mesic prairies; open woods
N, C, S
2-4'
bumble bees, beetles
achenes
songbirds, gamebirds
showy long lasting flowers
very easy from moist stratified seed; very aggressive

Elymus canadensis
nodding wild rye
hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; shaded bottomlands
N, C, S
2-3'
wind
grain
small mammals, songbirds

easy by seed

Eryngium yuccifolium
rattlesnake master
dry to mesic prairies; woods
N, C, S
3-4'
bees
nutlets covered with seeds

use cautiously because of aggressive seeding; unusual seedhead
best from transplants, but still easy from seed
drought resistent, very adaptable
Eupatorium coelestinum
mistflower
wet prairies; low woods; borders of streams
C, S
3-4'
long-tongued bees (6), short-tongued bees (5), other Hymenoptera (1), Diptera (5), Lepidoptera (8), Coleoptera (1)
achenes with tufts of hair
upland gamebirds, songbirds, butterflies

easy by seed, self sows

Eupatorium serotinum
late boneset
mesic prairies; open woods and clearings
N, C, S
3-4'
long-tongued bees (21), short-tongued bees (11), other Hymenoptera (44), Diptera (34), Lepidoptera (15), Hemiptera (1)
achenes with tufts of hair
upland gamebirds, songbirds, butterflies

easy by seed, self sows

Euphorbia corollata
flowering spurge
sand and hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies; savannas; open woods
N, C, S
2-3'
monoecious; short-tongued bees (7), other Hymenoptera (22),Diptera (21), Lepidoptera (1), Hemiptera (1)
capsules with hard seeds
upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
seed difficult to get
best propagated from moist stratified seeds

Fragaria virginiana
wild strawberry
wet to mesic prairies; woods
N, C, S
5-8''
long-tongued bees (12), short-tongued bees (15), other Hymenoptera (1), Diptera (21), Lepidoptera (7)
fleshy with tiny achenes
small mammals, songbirds, gamebirds
excellent fruit
easy from seed

Galium boreale
northern bedstraw
wet to mesic prairies; shores; woodland borders
N
1-2.5'
Diptera, Lepidoptera , sawflies
nutlets


seed or seedling transplant, needs no stratification,
readily spreads
Gaura biennis
butterfly-weed
hill prairies; dry, mesic, wet prairies; open woods; roadsides
N, C, S
3-6'
long-tongued bees (5)
nut-like


easy from seed

Gentiana alba (G. flavida)
pale gentian, yellowish gentian
mesic prairies; wooded slopes
N, C, S
1-3'
probably similar to G. andrewsii
capsules with tiny seeds


probably similar to G. andrewsii

Gentiana andrewsii
closed gentian
mesic to wet prairies; swales
N, C, S
2-3'
bumble bees, Coleoptera
capsules with tiny seeds

unusual blue, balloon-like flowers
easily grown from moist stratified seeds

Gentiana puberulenta
downy gentian
mesic to dry prairies
N, C
1-2'
bumble bees
capsules with tiny seeds


probably similar to G. andrewsii

Gentiana saponaria
soapwort gentian
sand prairies and woods; mesic prairies
N, S
1.5-4'
probably similar to G. andrewsii
capsules with tiny seeds


probably similar to G. andrewsii

Gentianella quinquefolia
stiff gentian
hill and gravel prairies; calcareous meadows and woods
N, C
1.5-2.5'
probably similar to G. andrewsii
capsules with tiny seeds


probably similar to G. andrewsii

Geum trifolium
prairie smoke
calcareous gravel hill prairies
N
1-2'
long-tongue bees (1), short-tongued bees (9), other Hymenoptera (6), Diptera (3), Coleoptera (2)
plummed achenes

unusual fruit; mature plants form dense stands
establish by fresh or dry stratified seeds or rhizomes

Helenium autumnale
sneezeweed
wet prairies; sedgemeadows; lowland woods; shors;
N, C, S
2-5'
long-tongued bees (15), short-tongued (3), other Hymenoptera (7), Diptera (4), Lepidoptera (4), Hemiptera (1)
achenes
upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals

readily grown

Helianthus grosseserratus
sawtooth sunflower
mesic to wet prairies; degraded prairie remnants
N, C, S
6-10'
long-tongued bees (29), short-tongued bees (9), other Hymenoptera (3), Diptera (14), Lepidoptera (13), Hemiptera (1)
achenes
upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
important food source
easy from dry stratified seed
spreads rapidly with moisture
Helianthus mollis
downy sunflower
dry to mesic prairies; woods
C, S
2-4'
long-tongued bees (12), short-tongued bees (7), Diptera (6), Lepidoptera (2)
achenes
upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
important food source
easy from dry stratified seed
spreads rapidly with moisture
Helianthus occidentalis
western sunflower
sand prairies
N, C
1-3'
probably similar to H. grosseseratus
achenes
upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
important food source
easy from dry straified seed
spreads rapidly with moisture
Helianthus rigidus
prairie sunflower
hill prairies; dry to mesic prairies
N, C, S
3'
probably similar to H. grosseseratus
achenes
upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals
important food source
easy from dry stratified seed
spreads rapidly with moisture
Heliopsis helianthoides
false sunflower
open woods; dry prairies
N, C, S
2-5'
long-tongued bees (19), short-tongued bees (11), other Hymenoptera (4), Diptera (11), Lepidoptera (4)
achenes
probably similar to H. occidentalis

easy from seed

Heuchera richardsonii
prairie alumroot
hill and sand prairies; dry to mesic prairies; ledges
N, C
2-3'
bees
capsules with small seeds
upland gamebirds, small mammals
tiny seeds
from fresh or dry stratified seeds

Hieracium longipilum
hairy hawkweed
sand prairies; dry prairies; old fields
N, C, S
2-4'
bees, Diptera
capsules with tiny seeds


readily from seed

Houstonia purpurea
broad-leafed bluets
mesic prairies
S
0.5-3'
long-tongued bees (9), short-tongued bees (9), Diptera (9), Lepidoptera (7), Coleoptera (3)
capsules with tiny seeds


sometimes stubborn from seed, but once established self-sows

Hypericum sphaerocarpum
round fruited St. John's-wort
mesic prairies; dry woods
N, C, S
1-2'
flying insects, Diptera
capsules with tiny seeds

one of several species of Hypericum to consider


Hypoxis hirsuta
yellow star grass
hill prairies; dry, mesic, wet prairies; calcareous soil;bluff tops
N, C, S
3-7''
long-tongued bees (4), short-tongued bees (9), Diptera (2), Coleoptera (1)
capsules

difficult to find seeds
easy from seed


Click here for published references consulted for this project.

1 Almost all species of prairie plants occur in habitats other than prairies; in this column the emphasis is on the different types of prairies in which the species occur. Information on habitat based primarily on Evers (1955); Kirt (1989); Korling (1972); Lunn (1982); Mohlenbrock (1986); Runkel & Roosa (1989); Swink & Wilhelm (1979); Voight & Mohlenbrock (1979); White (1978) as well as personal observations.

2 Information on region based primarily on Mohlenbrock & Ladd (1978); Mohlenbrock (1986); "n" = north of Interstate 80; "c" = central, between Interstate 80 and Interstate 64; "s" = south of Interstate 64; a capital letter indicates that the species is native to that region while a lower case letter indicates that the species can be cultivated in the region although it is not native there.

3 Information on height based primarily on Kirt (1989); Korling (1972); Lunn (1982); Mohlenbrock (1986); Runkel & Roosa (1989); Voight & Mohlenbrock (1979).

4 All flowers perfect unless otherwise mentioned; information on pollination mostly from Robertson (1929). Perfect flowers = flowers have both female & male parts; monoecious = separate female and male flowers on the same plant; dioecious = separate female and male flowers on different plants; polygamous = a mix of perfect and/or female and male flowers on the same plant. The numbers in parentheses refer to the number of species reported visiting this species by Robertson (1929).

5 Information of fruits largely from Fernald (1950) and personal observations by K. R. Robertson.

6 Information on wildlife primarily based on: DeGraaf & Witman (1979); Ehrlich et al. (1988); Gill & Healy (1974); Martin et al. (1951).

7 Information on special largely from Kirt (1989); Runkel & Roosa (1989); Voss & Mohlenbrock (1979).

8 Information on Establishment and Adaptability mostly from McClain (1986); Rock (1979).

Go to Part 2. I - Z of this table

Return to Ken Robertson's homepage