Prairie Glacial Plains

Banner: Resource Management - Prairie Glacial Plains


The "Prairie Glacial Plains" is a 1,800-acre restoration area at Midewin

The Prairie Glacial Plains project is a 1,800-acre area on the west side of Midewin that was identified as the next area to be restored to a tallgrass prairie landscape. You can drive in on Explosives Road & park in the parking lot & walk in.

Against a backdrop of piles of gravel from WWII bunkers that once stood in the area you might see volunteers, staff and partners planting mountain mint, cinquefoil, black-eyed Susans & more. Across the 18,500 acres of the Midewin, we are working with over 275 species of native Illinois prairie plants. Ultimately, over 160 different species of native Illinois prairie plants will be planted in the Prairie Glacial Plains.

Plant species were chosen based on soils, topography, moisture regime and historic records. The Prairie Glacial Plains area was identified as a restoration site to connect existing restorations with one another and create a large, contiguous restoration area. The project began in 2016.

The large scale of this project makes splitting the area into phases a necessity. Around 400 acres were put into soybeans for two growing seasons to prepare the ground for planting into prairie. Initial planting took place in winter 2018-19. Plugs were installed in the summer of 2019. Over seeding is planned for this winter. Invasive species control will be ongoing for years to come.

The Prairie Glacial Plains restoration project is possible because of partnerships with the USDA Forest Service, The Wetlands Initiative, The Nature Conservancy and the National Forest Foundation.


Pollinator Plants from the "Prairie Glacial Plains" At Midewin

Considering plants for your 2020 pollinator garden? When thinking about pollinator plants – species that attract butterflies, bees, moths, caterpillars, birds and other pollinators –milkweed usually first comes to mind. There are so many more native Illinois pollinator plants available, and a variety of prairie pollinator plants in your garden will attract more species of pollinators.

Ecologists have judiciously strategized a recipe of some 160 plants for restoring the Prairie Glacial Plains. These are just some of the 275 different species of plants that are part of restoration projects at Midewin. In 2016, the Prairie Glacial Plains, an area on the west side of Midewin, was dedicated for seven years of accelerated restoration. Hearts and hands involved in this concentrated restoration focus are with the USDA Forest Service, The Wetlands Initiative, The Nature Conservancy & the National Forest Foundation.

Below is a list of some of the pollinator plants from the Prairie Glacial Plains restoration project. These plants will provide an array of heights to your prairie pollinator garden while dazzling with a variance of bloom times throughout the season.


Printable List (pdf)

Pollinator Plant Why? Growing Information Height Bloom Time
Boneset (common) The nectar & pollen of the tiny white flowers of common boneset is a favorite of bees, butterflies, beetles & insects of other varieties. It is also loved by moths, including the lined ruby tiger, blackberry looper moths & more. Full or partial sun; wet or moist soil 2 - 4 feet Late summer to early fall
Butterfly Weed While the bright orange color of the flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators, including even the ruby-throated hummingbird and more, the nectar of the flowers attracts a variety of bees; as well as monarchs, swallowtails and other butterflies. Butterfly weed also attracts many different bugs, moths & butterfly larvae. Full sun; dry or mesic; rocky or sandy and acidic soil 1-2 feet Early- to mid-summer
Cardinal flower With its striking red blooms, cardinal flower attracts a variety of pollinators. Full sun to light shade; moist or wet soil 3-6 feet July to October
Cinquefoil (prairie) With its white-green colors, prairie cinquefoil attracts an array of pollinators. Its flower nectar and pollen attracts small bees, and the larvae of some small insects, including some grasshoppers find food on the leaves. Full sun; dry or mesic conditions. Adaptable to a wide variety of soil conditions. 1-3 feet Mid-summer for about one month
Compass plant Craning well above other plants with its bright yellow colors, compass plant is a stand-out pollinator that shouts “prairie” to knowledgeable enthusiasts, even from a distance. The leaves of the compass plant grow vertically north to south, which is how they provided direction to plant-savvy settlers in the 1800s. Limit the number of compass plants in your garden to just one or two- it will help narrow the chances of this large plant overwhelming other plants while still giving your garden the look and feel of a prairie. Full sun; moist to slightly dry and loamy, deep soil. Plant on flat ground to help avoid drooping. 12 feet Mid-summer for about six weeks
Coreopsis (prairie) The bright orange-yellow flowers of prairie coreopsis are some of the first to bloom. Full sun; mesic to dry-mesic; clay-loam or loamy soil, sandy loam or gravely soil 2 feet June through August
Culver’s root Culver’s root is a member of the snapdragon family. Its flowers grow in an arrangement that resembles a decorative candelabra. Mason bees bumble bees, honey bees and other long- and short-tongued bees are attracted to its nectar; also butterflies, moths and a variety of insects Full or part sun; moist or average; grows best in loamy and rich soil 5 feet June to September,
Cylindrical blazing star A member of the aster family, the purple colors of cylindrical blazing star flowers are as brilliant as its cousin the New England aster. The nectar is favored by butterflies, bees, as well as bee flies and skippers. The seeds and flowers attract the rare glorious flower moth caterpillars. Full sun and dry conditions with poor soil 1-2 feet July to September
Cylindrical blazing star A member of the aster family, the purple colors of cylindrical blazing star flowers are as brilliant as its cousin the New England aster. The nectar is favored by butterflies, bees, as well as bee flies and skippers. The seeds and flowers attract the rare glorious flower moth caterpillars. Full sun and dry conditions with poor soil 1-2 feet July to September
Milkweed (prairie) Of all the rosy or purplish/pink or brown blooms, only a few flowers are pollinated, which is how those recognizable large pods filled with silky, plumy seeds take shape. You can also tell milkweed by its white sap. While the flowers draw in a wide array of pollinators, only a few insects can eat milkweed leaves – including the larvae of the very popular monarch butterfly. Also known as Sullivant’s milkweed. Full sun; mesic or moist; loamy, rich soil 2-3 feet Early- to mid-summer
Milkweed (swamp) One of the only milkweeds that grows well in wetland areas, swamp milkweed can attract a wide array of pollinators of all kinds to areas around ponds, marshes, streams & more. Full sun; medium to wet soils 2-6 feet Late summer for about one month
Milkweed (whorled) Whorled milkweed is identifiable by its leaves, which are noticeably narrower than the leaves of other milkweeds. Full sun; soil with good drainage ½-2 feet June to September
Mountain mint (common) Pretty, delicate, white blooms of mountain mint attracts a variety of pollinators. Full sun; tolerates shade 3 feet June into September
New England aster The hearty bright purple blooms of the New England aster have stark, vibrant centers. The nectar is a favorite of bees, including bumble, miner and leaf-cutter bees & also bee flies. Butterfly & moth caterpillars, as well as lace and plant bugs, love to eat the leaves and stems. Full or partial sun; rich, moist soil 4-6 feet late summer to fall for about two months
Old-field goldenrod A member of the aster family, the bright, cheerful blooms of old-field goldenrod add lively pops of yellow colors that attract a wide variety of bees, butterflies, beetles & more. Full sun and dry-mesic to dry soil 3 feet Mid- to late-summer for about 4-6 weeks
Pale purple coneflower Widely known as echinacea, this member of the sturdy aster family provides soft pops of light pinks & purples that attract pollinators. Full sun; average or dry soil; can droop with too much water 3½ feet May to August
Partridge pea (common) A variety of bees, insects, butterflies and other pollinators are attracted to the perky yellow blooms of partridge pea. Full sun; average or dry soil; can droop with too much water 3½ feet May to August
Purple prairie clover A purple wreath of flowers attracts an array of pollinators, including insects, bees, butterflies & even hummingbirds. Full shade; dry soil ¾-3 feet Early to mid-summer; for about 4-6 weeks
Rough blazing star The stunning purple hues f rough blazing star flowers are popular with bees, butterflies, skippers, caterpillars, bee flies and more. Full sun; dry or mesic conditions 4 feet Late summer to early fall for about 3 weeks
Savanna blazing star Monarch butterflies, in particular, are attracted to the stunning purple blooms of savanna blazing star. Full sun or partial sun; mesic or moist soil 2/5-5 feet Late summer to mid-fall for about 6 weeks
Spiderwort (common) The brilliant purple blooms of spiderwort attract a variety of pollinators, particularly several different species of bees. Sun to partial shade; partially dry to moist soil (tolerates wet) Up to 3 feet Late spring to mid-summer for about 6 weeks
Sweet Black-eyed Susan With its dark brown centers and robust yellow petals this member of the hearty aster family is an icon of the prairies when in bloom. The flowers attract a wide array of bugs, moths, butterflies, bees & other pollinators. Full sun; medium clay soils Up to 48 inches July through September
Western sunflower The crisp bright yellow flowers of western sunflowers draw interest from bees, beetles, some butterflies, grasshoppers & more. Full sun; sandy soil; mesic to dry soil 2-4 feet Mid-summer to early-fall for about one month
Wild senna Yellow flowers attract bees & more. At the base of each leafstalk is a tiny, club-shaped gland that produces nectar. The nectar attracts ants, ladybird beetles and more. A variety of butterfly species and moth larvae feast on the foliage. Sunny or partly shaded areas; soil with good drainage Up to 6 feet July to August
Yellow coneflower Extend the season with yellow coneflower- it attracts a variety of pollinators with its hearty, bright yellow blooms from July all the way through October. Grows best in loamy, clay and sandy soils; dry or medium moisture. 2-4 feet July through October

If you are interested in learning more about these and other native Illinois prairie pollinator plants, the Midewin Interpretive Association provides an array of resources in the Midewin Welcome Center.

On Saturday, May 2 at 2 p.m., the Midewin Interpretive Association, as well as Midewin staff and volunteers, will lead a community planting activity as part of Midewin’s annual “Spring into The Prairie” event, which is part of the Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival. Information on native Illinois prairie pollinators will be presented before the planting activity. To register, call 815-423-6370 or e-mail



Plant List

Eventually, some 160 different species of native Illinois prairie plants will be planted in the Prairie Glacial Plains. This is a significant number, but yet these are just some of the 275 different species that volunteers and staff are working with in restoration projects at Midewin. These plants are part of the Prairie Glacial Plains restoration project:

Scientific Name 

Common Name 

Alisma subcordatum 

Allium canadense 

Allium cernuum 

Amorpha canescens 

Andropogon gerardii 

Anemone canadensis 

Anemone cylindrica 

Angelica atropurpurea 

Arnoglossum plantagineum 

Asclepias incarnata 

Asclepias sullivantii 

Asclepias tuberosa 

Asclepias verticillata 

Astragalus canadensis 

Baptisia lactea 

Baptisia leucophaea 

Bidens aristosa 

Bolboschoenus fluviatilis 

Bouteloua curtipendula 

Brickellia eupatorioides var. Corymbulosa 

Bromus kalmii 

Camassia scilloides 

Carex bicknellii 

Carex brevior 

Carex buxbaumii 

Carex comosa 

Carex cristatella 

Carex frankii 

Carex granularis 

Carex gravida 

Carex hystericina 

Carex lacustris 

Carex lupulina 

Carex molesta 

Carex muehlenbergii 

Carex normalis 

Carex sartwellii 

Carex scoparia 

Carex stipata 

Carex stricta 

Carex tribuloides 

Ceanothus americanus 

Chamaecrista fasciculata 

Chelone glabra 

Cicuta maculata 

Cinna arundinacea 

Comandra umbellata 

Coreopsis lanceolata 

Coreopsis palmata 

Coreopsis tripteris 

Dalea purpurea 

Desmodium canadense 

Desmodium illinoense 

Desmodium sessilifolium 

Dodecatheon meadia 

Drymocallis arguta 

Echinacea pallida 

Elymus canadensis 

Elymus villosus 

Elymus virginicus 

Eragrostis spectabilis 

Eryngium yuccifolium 

Eupatorium perfoliatum 

Euphorbia corollata 

Euthamia graminifolia 

Euthamia gymnospermoides 

Eutrochium maculatum 

Eutrochium purpureum 

Glyceria striata 

Helenium autumnale 

Helianthus grosseserratus 

Helianthus mollis 

Helianthus occidentalis 

Helianthus pauciflorus 

Heliopsis helianthoides 

Hesperostipa spartea 

Heuchera richardsonii 

Hypericum ascyron 

Hypericum sphaerocarpum 

Hystrix patula 

Ionactis linariifolius 

Iris virginica var. shrevei 

Juncus effusus 

Juncus nodosus 

Juncus torreyi 

Koeleria macrantha 

Leersia oryzoides 

Lespedeza capitata 

Liatris aspera 

Liatris cylindracea 

Liatris pycnostachya 

Liatris scariosa var. nieuwlandii 

Liatris spicata 

Lobelia cardinalis 

Lobelia siphilitica 

Lobelia spicata 

Ludwigia alternifolia 

Lycopus americanus 

Lythrum alatum 

Mimulus ringens 

Monarda fistulosa 

Monarda punctata 

Oligoneuron album 

Oligoneuron riddellii 

Oligoneuron rigidum 

Onosmodium molle 

Opuntia cespitosa 

Parthenium integrifolium 

Penstemon calycosus 

Penstemon digitalis 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Penstemon pallidus 

Penthorum sedoides 

Phlox glaberrima var. interior 

Phlox pilosa 

Physostegia virginiana 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium 

Pycnanthemum virginianum 

Ratibida pinnata 

Rosa carolina 

Rudbeckia hirta 

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 

Ruellia humilis 

Sagittaria latifolia 

Schizachyrium scoparium 

Schoenoplectus acutus 

Schoenoplectus pungens 

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani 

Scirpus atrovirens 

Scirpus cyperinus 

Scirpus pendulus 

Scutellaria lateriflora 

Senna hebecarpa 

Silphium integrifolium 

Silphium laciniatum 

Silphium terebinthinaceum 

Sisyrinchium angustifolium 

Smilacina stellata 

Solidago juncea 

Solidago nemoralis 

Solidago ulmifolia 

Sparganium eurycarpum 

Spartina pectinata 

Sporobolus heterolepis 

Symphyotrichum ericoides 

Symphyotrichum laeve 

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense 

Symphyotrichum praealtum 

Tephrosia virginiana 

Thalictrum dasycarpum 

Tradescantia ohiensis 

Triosteum perfoliatum 

Verbena hastata 

Verbesina alternifolia 

Vernonia fasciculata 

Vernonia missurica 

Veronicastrum virginicum 

Zizia aptera 

Zizia aurea 

Common water plantain 

Wild onion 

Nodding wild onion 

Lead plant 

Big bluestem 

Meadow anemone 


Great angelica 

Prairie Indian plantain 

Swamp milkweed 

Prairie milkweed 

Butterfly weed 

Whorled milkweed 

Canadian milkvetch 

White wild indigo 

Cream wild indigo 

Swamp marigold 

River bulrush 

Side-oats grama 

False boneset 

Prairie brome 

Wild hyacinth 

Copper-shouldered oval sedge 

Plains oval sedge 

Dark-scaled sedge 

Bristly sedge 

Crested oval sedge 

Bristly cattail sedge 

Pale sedge 

Long-awned bracted sedge 

Porcupine sedge 

Common lake sedge 

Common hop sedge 

Field oval sedge 

Sand bracted sedge 

Spreading oval sedge 

Running prairie sedge 

Broom oval sedge 

Common fox sedge 

Common tussock sedge 

Awl-fruited oval sedge 

New Jersey tea 

Common partridge pea 


Water hemlock 

Common wood reed 

False toadflax 

Sand coreopsis 

Prairie coreopsis 

Tall coreopsis 

Purple prairie clover 

Showy ticktrefoil 

Illinois ticktrefoil 

Short-stalked ticktrefoil 

Shooting star 

Prairie cinquefoil 

Pale purple coneflower 

Canada wild rye 

Silky wild rye 

Virginia wild rye 

Purple love grass 

Rattlesnake master 

Common boneset 

Flowering spurge 

Smooth grass-leaved goldenrod 

Viscid grass-leaved goldenrod 

Spotted Joe Pye weed 

Purple Joe Pye weed 

Green fowl anna grass 


Sawtooth sunflower 

Downy sunflower 

Western sunflower 

Prairie sunflower 

False sunflower 

Porcupine grass 

Prairie alum root 

Great St. John’s wort 

Round-fruited St. John’s wort 

Bottlebrush grass 

Flax-leaved aster 

Blue flag 

Soft rush 

Joint rush 

Torrey’s rush 

June grass 

Rice cut grass 

Round-headed bush clover 

Rough blazing star 

Cylindrical blazing star 

Prairie gay feather 

Savanna blazing star 

Marsh gay feather 

Cardinal flower 

Great blue lobelia 

Pale-spiked lobelia 


Common water horehound 

Winged loosestrife 

Monkey flower 

Wild bergamot 

Horse mint 

Stiff aster 

Riddell’s goldenrod 

Stiff goldenrod 

Rough marbleseed 

Eastern prickly pear 

Wild quinine 

Smooth beard tongue 

Foxglove beard tongue 

Hairy beard tongue 

Pale beard tongue 

Ditch stonecrop 

Marsh phlox 

Sand prairie phlox 

Obedient plant 

Slender mountain mint 

Common mountain mint 

Yellow coneflower 

Pasture rose 

Black-eyed Susan 

Sweet black-eyed Susan 

Prairie petunia 

Common arrowhead 

Little bluestem 

Hard-stemmed bulrush 

Chair-makers rush 

Great bulrush 

Dark green rush 


Red bulrush 

Mad-dog skullcap 

Wild senna 


Compass plant 

Prairie dock 

Stout blue-eyed grass 

Starry false Solomon’s seal 

Early goldenrod 

Old-field goldenrod 

Elm-leaved goldenrod 

Common bur reed 

Prairie cordgrass 

Prairie dropseed 

Heath aster 

Smooth blue aster 

New england aster 

Sky-blue aster 

Willow aster 

Goat’s rue 

Purple meadow rue 

Common spiderwort 

Late horse gentian 

Blue vervain 


Common ironweed 

Missouri ironweed 

Culver’s root 

Heart-leaved meadow parsnip 

Golden alexanders