Purple Wildflowers Illinois OR''

Purple Wildflowers Illinois OR''

Purple Wildflowers Illinois

Of all the seasonal blooms, spring wildflowers seem to capture our hearts and attention the most, likely because they’re the first we see after months of drab landscapes. Most grow in woodlands and for that reason are short-lived, or “ephemeral.” They must sprout, grow, flower, fruit and set seeds before the trees leaf out and block the sun. Some spring flowers are a memory by summer, but a few produce leaves that last into autumn. Below are a few you’ll see this season, so enjoy them while they last! The App includes 3,067 species of plants found in Illinois. Overall, 1,589 are "Wildflowers", 251 are shrubs, 217 are broadleaf trees, 31 are conifers, 77 are vines, 495 are grass-like, 72 are fern-like, 237 are moss-like, and 210 are lichen.


This plants scientific genus name, Clematis, comes from the ancient Greek word for a vine with “long, lithe branches” and the species name, occidentalis, refers to “western”. (Black and Judziewicz, 2009). Both names are appropriate ones as this vine can grow to over 3 meters in length and the plant grows primarily in the rocky soils and hilly habitats that are more common in the western portions of the U.S. and Canada. Three varieties of this plant are known and this variety is the one that occurs in the eastern U.S. where the habitats it requires are uncommon. In the eastern U.S., purple clematis is listed as Endangered in Illinois, Maryland, and Rhode Island; of Special Concern in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin; and Presumed Extirpated in Ohio. Two other varieties of this plant also occur, var. grosserrata that occurs only in western North America and var. dissecta that has been found in only two counties of central Washington State. (USDA Plants Database)

Purple clematis is a climbing perennial with a woody stem and has very showy flowers that are 1½-inches to 2-inches long and hang down in an attractive bell like shape (Figure 1). One large plant can support several vines and many clusters of flowers on each vine making it quite a showy plant (Figure 2). Purple clematis also blooms quite early in the growing season, usually about the time that common dandelions (Taraxicum officinale) are just starting to bloom, which can be from April to June depending on where in the range the plants are located as well as local weather conditions. The leaves are three parted and long stalked and occur all along the woody stem sometimes together with the clusters of flowers or by themselves (Figure 3). Vines with leaves only occur in shady situations, but in sunny locations, the plants can have dozens of flowers. The habitats where this plant can occur are listed as being "calcareous cliffs, rock ledges, talus slopes, gravelly embankments, rocky woods, and clearings" (Flora of North America, Volume 3. 1997). (Source: www.fs.fed.us)




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