This website contains descriptions, photographs, and range maps of many wildflowers and other plants in Illinois. These plants consist primarily of herbaceous flowering plants and some woody plants, whether native to Illinois or introduced from somewhere else. A wildflower, as defined here, is any flowering plant that flourishes and reproduces on its own without any direct assistance (or very little assistance) from people and their activities. A wildflower may occur in natural areas of high quality, or it may occur at ecologically degraded sites that are disturbed by human-related activities. The flowers of these plants may be large and showy, or they may be small and insignificant. Some non-flowering plants are included in this website (e.g., ferns & horsetails); such plants produce spores, rather than flowers and seeds.
At the present time, this website doesn't include the following kinds of plants:
• Non-vascular plants and similar organisms, such as fungi, lichens, & mosses
• Many cultivated plants, such as agricultural crops and flowering horticultural plants
• Submerged aquatic plants
In the future, I may include some of the above groups of plants. New species of wildflowers and other additions or improvements to this website occasionally occur. Unless otherwise noted, all of the photographs at this website were taken by the webmaster using a digital camera. East-central Illinois is the area where these wildflowers have been photographed primarily, especially in the vicinity of Champaign-Urbana.
Over 3,000 species of native or naturalized vascular plants occur in the state of Illinois (not counting many horticultural species); this website provides information on over 800 species of them. For each wildflower species, there is a description of its appearance, cultivation requirements, range and habitat, floral-faunal relationships, comparison with similar species, and other information. The descriptions and photographs can be useful in identifying wildflower species in the field by either educated laypersons or professionals. Hopefully, the photographs will reveal the quiet beauty of these wildflowers, including the smaller ones, which are often overlooked.
Wildflowers and other plants are divided into 5 large groups according to the general habitat in which they are most likely to occur:
• Prairie Wildflowers. These species usually occur in prairies, meadows, and other sunny areas.
• Savanna Wildflowers. These species usually occur in savannas, thickets, woodland borders, and other partially sunny areas.
• Weedy Wildflowers. Unlike the wildflowers of the other groups, these species occur primarily in various disturbed or degraded sites where weedy plants normally flourish.
• Wetland Wildflowers. These species usually occur in marshes, fens, borders of ponds and rivers, and other wet habitats.
• Woodland Wildflowers. These species occur in shaded areas where trees are the dominant vegetation.
Two other groups of plants at this website have not been defined by habitat:
• Grasses, Sedges, & Non-Flowering Plants. These species include grasses, sedges, horsetails, and ferns, which can be found in any of the preceding habitats (prairies, savannas & thickets, wetlands, woodlands, and weedy areas).
• Trees, Shrubs, & Woody Vines. These species include most woody plants, except for some subshrubs and plants with woody canes (mainly blackberries and roses). Woody plants can be found in most habitats, although they tend to be absent or uncommon in prairies.
The weedy wildflowers are primarily introduced species, often annual or biennial plants, that flourish in moist to dry sunny areas with a history of disturbance. However, some weedy wildflowers occur in disturbed areas that are shady or wet, and sometimes they invade higher quality habitats with little disturbance. An attempt is made to define the meaning of a "weed" in the Weedy Wildflower section.
For each group, the wildflower species are listed alphabetically according to their scientific names. To access information about individual wildflowers in each group, click on the appropriate link on the right side of the Home Page.
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