What’s Up? Dock!

This is the first year since its planting that prairie dock has bloomed so successfully across Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. What is this native plant exactly?

Prairie Dock at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

Prairie dock (Siphium terebinthinaceum) is a member of the Aster family—meaning it’s a daisy relative. Prairie landscapes feature many representatives of daisy flowers. They’re often yellow. Prairie dock is among the few that grows so tall, reaching up to 8–10 feet to hold dozens of flowers on a smooth, shiny stalk.

The leaves are an easy way to confirm identification. Bigger than a dinner plate, they’re roughly textured, medium green and have a coarsely notched edge. For mature plantings, a clump of prairie dock leaves makes a striking contrast to smaller, finely textured prairie companions.

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