5 Flowers You Can See at the Zoo During Summer Wine Fest

July 20, 2023

If you haven’t gotten your tickets for Summer Wine Fest on Friday, July 28, you’re going to want to get on that immediately. Not only will you be able to indulge in 20 tastings from the more than 50 wines and cocktails that will be available on grounds while enjoying a party of epic proportions, you’ll be able to experience exciting animals and beautiful gardens.

In fact, you may be able to view many of the 850 species of plants that make the zoo so full of life all year round. If you’re wondering what flowers will be in bloom, here are some of the can’t-miss species you can expect to see that weekend:

Hardy Hibiscus

Did you know that Lincoln Park Zoo’s hardy hibiscus collection is nationally accredited by the American Public Gardens Association Plant Collections Network? It’s basically a living library, allowing zoo researchers to discover plant knowledge that benefits all. The more than 80 cultivars on grounds have their peak bloom in early August through early September, but you will start to see them unfurling their petals around the end of July.

These gorgeous, dramatic flowers in the Hibiscus genus (part of the mallow family), with their bright colors and stunning trumpet shapes, are among the most visible on grounds. They are located across the zoo, but you’ll find mixed clusters at Park Place Café near the South Lawn, the entrance at the East Gate, the west side of Regenstein African Journey, and near the entrance to Helen Brach Primate House and the Dream Lady statue.

Purple Coneflowers

These pretty flowers, characterized by their drooping pink and purple petals and domed spiny brown centers, are a favorite nectar source for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Their scientific name, Echinacea purpurea, indicates that they are part of a genus known to stimulate the human immune system to fight off infection.

At Lincoln Park Zoo, several types of purple coneflowers can be seen at Nature Boardwalk just south of zoo gates, including the Black Oak Savanna. You can also find some Echinacea purpurea cultivars by Searle Visitor Center and around some of the habitats, such as Pepper Family Wildlife Center.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Clusters of small, creamy-white blooms make up the cone-shaped heads of oakleaf hydrangea. The flowers start to turn pink as fall approaches, and eventually turn to deeper reds. This is a deciduous shrub with dark green leaves that are shaped like oak leaves. They can become quite tall—up to 8 feet when mature.

The zoo features a number of Hydrangea quercifolia cultivars in areas around the zoo. Check by Kovler Seal Pool, near the entrance to Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo, along the patio at Café Brauer and the Alexander Waterfall near South Pond, in the hillside garden across from the rhino habitat at Regenstein African Journey, and near Searle Visitor Center, for starters.

Culver’s Root

A large, unbranched stem with spikes of densely clustered white and pinkish flowers, these candelabra-like flowers are pollinator-friendly, attracting both native bees and honeybees. The root of this plant is said to be a powerful emetic and cathartic.

Also known as Veronicastrum virginicum, Culver’s root cultivars can be found at Nature Boardwalk, in the hillside garden across from the eastern black rhino habitats, and on the northeastern side of Pepper Family Wildlife Center.

Common Milkweed

These plants feature nearly spherical clusters of small flowers at the top—usually white, pinkish, red, or purple flowers that have a sweet, strong scent. More than 450 insects are known to feed on some portion of the plant, so it’s not uncommon to see multiple species on one at a time. Milkweed is especially well known for being an important food source for monarch caterpillars. However, the plant is toxic to many insects and animals, too.

At Lincoln Park Zoo, Asclepias syriaca can be found at Nature Boardwalk, where many insects, from dragonflies to butterflies, and other animals like turtles and birds also reside. Plenty of native plant species also thrive here, so it’s a good place to walk, relax, and look for interesting plants!

For more information about where to find plants at Lincoln Park Zoo whether you’re here for Summer Wine Fest, Second Saturday Horticulture tours, or a regular day out, you can use the zoo’s Garden Explorer tool.

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