April M. Williams, volunteer steward at the Dixie Briggs Fromm Nature Preserve in Algonquin, shares her latest update for nature lovers.
"May is my favorite time of year at Dixie Briggs Fromm Nature Preserve. One of the first spring blooms also is the showiest. Cream baptisia (baptisia bracteata) puts on quite a display in May, demonstrating the tenacity of our native prairie plants and nature’s ability to recover.
"In 1998, Dundee Township purchased the land, then a horse farm, from farmer Dixie Briggs Fromm. It was Fromm’s wish to preserve the land as open space. The west half of the acreage was so thickly covered with Asian honeysuckle and European buckthorn trees that it was impassable.
"As native plant restoration efforts started, botanists discovered the cream baptisia. What’s the big deal? This rare plant is only found in a few sites throughout the state. In the 1990s, cream baptisia was declared extinct in Kane County. Through habitat restoration, hundreds of these pale yellow spikes sprang back to delight spring visitors.
Although our eyes feast on these flowers, insects depend on this plant for survival. According to www.illinoiswildflowers.info, cream baptisia supports bees (bumblebees, digger bees, mason bee) and butterflies (wild indigo duskywing, hoary edge, three-lined grapholita, black-spotted prominent, frosted elfin callophrys irus, orange sulphur and marine blue). Other dependent insects include wild indigo weevil, leaf beetle, seed-eating broad-headed bugs, oligophagous thrips, Keeler grasshopper and other grasshoppers.
"As the land is returned to its original state, additional threatened and endangered plants were discovered on-site. Even the federal endangered rusty patch bumblebee is a resident. Neighbors, Huntley Boy Scout Troop 200 and Interact Club members meet monthly to clear invasive plants and to learn about nature.
"I invite you to visit our 160 acres of diverse habitat with streams, 300-year-old bur oak trees, gravel hill prairies and sedge meadows. Miles of trails are a hidden gem right in our backyard."
Dixie Briggs Fromm Nature Preserve is west of Route 31, east of Sleepy Hollow Road, north of Crescent Drive and south of Edgewood Drive in Algonquin. Learn more at shawurl.com/3d4m.