On Earth Day, celebrated by the City of Evanston on April 21, a group from Dewey Elementary joined TreeKeepers and other volunteers in mulching trees and planting wildflowers in the Ladd Arboretum. More than 50 pots of mayapples went into the ground along shady stretches of the channelside path. Within a few days, they were beginning to pop up through the leaves. And with 80 degree weather on May 1, they opened their umbrella-shaped leaves.
This native flower is common in woodlands throughout the state and is easy to grow in home gardens. The flowers, which appear later in the spring under the leaves, are pollinated by bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. The fruits are eaten by box turtles. Small mammals like skunks, opossums, and raccoons apparently eat them, too. You can find out more about mayapples and other locally native plants on the Illinois Wildflowers website, which is maintained by Dr. John Hilty.
If you’d like to join regular volunteers who help to care for the native plantings at the arboretum, look for us Tuesdays at 2 pm or get in touch with at evanstonhabitat [at] gmail and we’ll add you to our list.
— Wendy Pollock