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Wednesday, April 15, 2009 01:01 am

Flowers of the wild

The Allerton Park Corps of Discovery

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are partial-shade lovers that bloom in April, forming carpetlike masses when in flower. Their nodding, trumpet-shaped flowers start out as pink buds that form light blue flowers.

Diane Wasson photographed these wildflowers in Allerton Park, near Monticello, as a participant in the Allerton Corps of Discovery, one of several groups organized under the Corps of Discovery program to teach a new generation to communicate both the joys and concerns of the natural world. Wasson, of Mahomet, is a hospital administrator at the Carle Clinic in Champaign.

She writes that she “grew up with mud between her toes, leading to a childlike awe and love of the wonders in nature.”

Corps of Discovery is under the supervision of Illinois Natural History Survey staff members Susan L. Post, Michael R. Jeffords and Carie Nixon. They ask members of the program to:

• Analyze with the mind of a scientist — that is, get the facts right and learn to ask appropriate questions,

• Portray the natural world by seeing with the eyes of an artist, and

• Speak with the words of a poet.

Diane Wasson’s photos were featured in the winter issue of The Illinois Steward. They are reprinted with permission. For more information about Corps of Discovery programs contact Susan L. Post (spost@inhs.uiuc.edu) or call 217-333-4322.

Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna) also known as “Innocence,” favors dappled light. These flowers have a presence in only 16 states and are on the endangered list in New York and Tennessee.
Blue violet (Viola pratincola), the Illinois state flower, blooms from March to June on plants with heart-shaped leaves.
Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) typically blossoms from March to May. It has straplike leaves and small white or pink flowers with darker pink veins running through the petals.
Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), found blooming during April, look like trousers hanging on the wash line and have two inflated bloomerlike spurs that form above fernlike leaves.
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