Saturday, September 05, 2009

Dazzling dragonflies and blue gentians!

Walking in the Schulenberg Prairie at The Morton Arboretum earlier this week, I was mesmerized by squadrons of dragonflies, a carpet of blue gentians, the scent of Sporobolus heterolepis (a.k.a. prairie dropseed) and lots of tall waving grasses. Rich with the whir of insect wings, flitting finches and the sound of the wind rushing through Indian grass, big bluestem and switchgrass, this area continues to amaze through all four seasons. The prairie is indeed looking very lush in these waning days of summer – a veritable feast for the spirit and soul!
Our collections within the Sterling Morton Library include resources on prairies and prairie plants. The collection ranges from John Weaver’s classic, North American Prairie to Claudia McGehee’s charming children’s book A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet to The Elemental Prairie featuring watercolors by George Olson. In addition to resources about these plants and this ecosystem, we also have resources about creatures the live in the prairie like Mitchell’s A Dazzle of Dragonflies and Johnsgard’s Prairie Birds : fragile splendor in the Great Plains. Wonder how Native Americans might have used prairie plants? Be sure to review Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany and Kindscher’s Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie : an ethnobotanical guide. Interested in the folklore related to these native plants? Try skimming Gilmore’s Prairie Smoke : a collection of lore of the prairies.
Like the Schulenberg Prairie, the Sterling Morton Library is a rich resource to be savored and explored. The Library is open Tuesday-Friday from 9-5 and Saturday from 10-4. All are welcome and encouraged to use our collections! Arboretum members and active volunteers have borrowing privileges. Located in the Administration and Research Center on the Arboretum's east side, we're just a short walk from the Visitor Center.

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