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For Your Garden - July 2009

Listen to the podcast of this information.
 
Summer can be a stressful time for plants. High temperatures, drought, diseases and insects can all affect the plants in your garden. How can you maintain your garden's beauty throughout this season? Use native wildflowers and grasses! Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and disease. They also provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Their brilliantly colored blossoms and interesting shapes will make your landscape a showplace. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
Photo © 2014, Joe Bauer, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
 
Rattlesnake master grows wild in Illinois prairies and woodland openings in scattered locations throughout the state. The blue-green leaves develop in a cluster at the base. Each leaf is fairly uniform in length, like a sword blade, and has small spines along the edge. A single leaf may be up to two and one-half feet long. The tiny white flowers are clustered in a sphere. Each sphere has its own stalk that develops from the plant's single stem. Rattlesnake master blooms from July through August. The plant may reach three to five feet in height. Early settlers thought that the plant was good for the treatment of rattlesnake bite, thus the common name of “rattlesnake master.” It was not effective for that purpose, however.
 
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.

Native Plant Information

For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, view the following publications at our publications page. You can access more information on the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant page, too.
 
  • Prairie Establishment and Landscaping
  • Landscaping for Wildlife
  • Butterfly Gardens