McKinley Woods' Spring Flower Power Here's a glance at what you can see right now in the Channahon preserve

It's that time of year when the preserves throughout Will County are starting to come alive, and the leaf-covered forest floor begins to be overtaken by spring flowers. After a long winter, it's obvious preserve visitors are eager to take a hike on our trails in search of whatever signs of spring they can find, based on the number of inquiries we receive about what's beginning to pop up.

There have been some significant wildflower sightings at Hickory Creek Preserve, as well as Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve. Based on a hike through McKinley Woods - Frederick's Grove Tuesday morning, the flower action in Channahon — and elsewhere throughout the county — is clearly starting to heat up.

More than ever, now is the time of year to slow down when out on the trails and take it all in.

Here's a sampling of what we came across, and what you can expect to see at Frederick's Grove:


These delicate plants are only in bloom for a few days each spring, and the petals can easily be knocked off either by wind, rain or animals.

McKinley Woods is the only known preserve in Will County where they exist, and they're plentiful. Natural Resource Land Manager Juanita Armstrong-Ullberg estimates there are more than 10,000 of these beauties in the preserve.

While the flower resembles that of bloodroot, the leaves differ in that twinleaf's are split into two identical parts.

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Sharp-lobed hepatica

You'll be able to find these in well-populated colonies and, while the blooming period lasts two to three weeks, individual flowers are short-lived.

Its preferred habitat is high-quality wooded areas, particularly on slopes of bluffs, which makes McKinley Woods a perfect location.

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Blue violet

Much like the sharp-lobed hepatica, these prefer wooded slopes, particularly along rivers. Or in this case, the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

It's especially common in Illinois, as it is present in every county in the state.

(Photo by Chad Merda)


Based on the reaction we get on social media, this little gem is a fan favorite. It blooms between March and May, depending on the weather, and features between eight and 12 delicate petals.

Historically, bloodroot was used by Native Americans to treat a number of ailments.

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Spring beauty

If these are your preferred wildflower, there's no need to rush out to the preserve and see them before they're gone. They'll be around for a while, considering they have up to a two-month blooming period.

On warm, sunny days, the flowers will open up and on cloudy days or at night, they'll close up.

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Virginia bluebells

Few things cause more of a stir than preserve visitors wanting to know when and where bluebells can be seen. While all of them are not yet in full bloom, they're definitely on their way at McKinley Woods.

They can form large colonies on the forest floor, and, coupled with their bright colors, are nearly impossible to miss.

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Cutleaf toothwort

Cutleaf toothwort is the only native toothwort in Illinois, and its presence in an area indicates the ground has never been plowed or subjected to heavy activities.

Its nectar attracts a wide variety of bees, as well as butterflies.

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Rue anemone

This showy wildflower thrives in high-quality woodlands and prefers to bask in sunlight in the spring when most of its growth occurs. The plant can tolerate a decent amount of shade later in the year.

It starts to flower in the middle of spring and its blooms last approximately three weeks.

(Photo by Juanita Armstrong-Ullberg)

Article by Chad Merda

Published April 11, 2017

17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, IL 60433

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