For Your Garden - December 2019
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Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.
wild senna Senna hebecarpa
Photo © 2019, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
A member of the pea family, wild senna grows along streams, in fens and in open woodlands statewide. It has compound leaves with five to 10 pairs of leaflets. The plant may reach six feet in height. Flowers are produced from July through August. The flowers develop in clusters in the leaf axils and are yellow. There is a small gland shaped like a club at the base of each leafstalk. This gland releases nectar that attracts ants, ladybird beetles and flies. Bumble bees and other bees are attracted to the flowers, while several species of butterfly and moth larvae eat the foliage.
Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.