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Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Plant of the Week: Rattlesnake Master
Its common name sounds like an ominous villain in a western. But this odd member of the carrot family—sporting yucca-like leaves and prickly balls of flowers—is simply a tall wildflower prairie species with a unique appearance and colorful past. Native Americans used the dried seedheads as rattles, and pioneers mistakenly believed the roots to be an effective antidote for rattlesnake bite. The plant’s whitish-green balls contain numerous small white flowers that are individually surrounded by prickly bracts (specialized leaves). The flowers attract many kinds of insects, including long-tongued and short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, moths, beetles and plant bugs. These insects usually seek nectar, although some of the bees may collect pollen for their nests.
Common Name: rattlesnake master
Scientific Name: Eryngium yuccifolium
Native Status: northern Canada to southeastern United States
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Height: 4–5 feet
Flowering Time: June–September
Flower Color: white, green
Interest: The entire plant is bluish or grayish green and quite hairless.
Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
By transforming the South Pond into Nature Boardwalk, Lincoln Park Zoo has created an urban ecosystem in the heart of the city. Enjoy a virtual view as native plants and animals establish themselves in this rare refuge.
As Lincoln Park Zoo’s director of horticulture, Brian oversees the zoo’s gardens, from bud to bloom.
As coordinator of wildlife management, Mason chronicles the bugs, birds, fish, insects, mammals and more that make their homes at Nature Boardwalk.
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