The prairies, woodlands and shorelines of Illinois are home to a variety of flowering plants. These native flowers rarely require water, fertilizer or pest and disease control because they have adapted to the conditions of the area. Native flowering plants also attract birds and butterflies to the garden and prevent the spread of non-native species.
Yellow Marsh Marigold
The succulent perennial Caltha palustris, commonly known as yellow marsh marigold, grows 1 to 2 feet tall. The thick, branching stems bear heart-shaped, dark green leaves and clusters of bright yellow flowers in the spring. Spring greens may be cooked in boiling water and eaten, but raw leaves are poisonous in large quantities. Native to wet woodlands and stream edges, marsh marigold works well in bog gardens or near water and prefers wet, rich, acidic soil. Plant this Illinois native in partial to full shade.
Flowering spurge, or Euphorbia corollata, features erect stems that grow up to 2 feet tall and bear bright green, smooth leaves. In the summer, clusters of tiny, white flowers appear on top of the stems. These long-lasting flowers bloom through the fall. The stems contain a milky sap that may cause skin blisters. Wear gloves when planting this perennial to avoid irritation. Flowering spurge grows wild in rocky prairies and open woodlands and prefers full sun and dry but well-drained soil.
Common Evening Primrose
The leafy, hairy, purplish stems of common evening primrose, also called Oenothera biennis, reach heights of 2 to 6 feet. Large yellow, bowl-shaped flowers bloom along spikes at the top of the stems in summer. The flowers open in the evening and close the following morning. Birds feed on the seeds and other animals may eat the leaves of young plants. Common evening primrose grows wild along lake shores and rocky plains and prefers dry, rocky or sandy soil. If planted in wet soil, this primrose may experience root rot. It will grow in sun or shade.
Showy Tick Trefoil
The bushy perennial Desmodium canadense, commonly known as showy tick trefoil, grows wild in prairies and open woodlands throughout Illinois. The slender, slightly hairy stems reach up to 6 feet high and bear clusters of pinkish purple, pea-shaped flowers in the summer. The blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It adapts to most soil types and tolerates moist or dry conditions as long as it receives full sun. Showy tick trefoil performs best in large gardens because of its spreading habit.
Tall Blazing Star
The erect, hairy stems of Liatris aspera, or tall blazing star, bear slender, bright green leaves and grow between 1 and 4 feet tall. In late summer, spikes of round pink or lavender flower heads bloom on top of the stems. Native to the prairies and plains of Illinois, tall blazing star performs best in full sun and dry, rocky soil. It tolerates drought, rarely requiring supplemental water. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.