Where the Native Plants Grow

A Blog Story About Nature in Our DuPage Forest Preserves

Where the Native Plants Grow

Posted by Jennifer Rydzewski | 4/30/20 8:43 AM

Planting native plants in our yards and gardens is gaining popularity for good reasons.

They require less maintenance, less water, and no fertilizers or pesticides because they are adapted to local environmental conditions. They attract local wildlife and support pollinators like birds, butterflies and bees, adding healthy diversity to our developed landscape.

For some inspiration this year, visit one of the DuPage forest preserves below to see native plants at their finest. More than 600 different species grow in DuPage forest preserves, from trilliums and wild ginger to compass plants and coneflowers.


Compass plant can be found at Springbrook Prairie and James "Pate" Philip State Park.

Remember to respect and protect wildflowers and their native habitats. Picked wildflowers wilt quickly and removing plants from preserves causes lasting damage to the wildlife, pollinators and habitats that depend upon them (it’s also against Forest Preserve District rules and regulations). Take only memories and photos so that future generations may enjoy our natural areas.


Bloodroot can be found at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton.  (Photo by © Jay Sturner)

Danada Forest Preserve

The 797-acre Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton features prairies, woods and wetlands. A 35-acre restored prairie on the north side of the preserve fills each summer with aster, goldenrod, prairie dock, big bluestem and western sunflower, which attract a variety of birds. Parson’s Grove, the open woodland in the southeast corner of the preserve, fills each spring with wild geraniums, shooting stars, bloodroot, and other native wildflowers.


Wild geranium can be found at Danada and Meacham Grove forest preserves.

Maple Grove 

Maple Grove Forest Preserve in Downer’s Grove is a remnant black maple savanna and upland maple forest hosting hundreds of different types of plants. Spring is an especially wonderful time to visit, when carpets of Virginia bluebells, wild geraniums and mayapples are in bloom. 


Virginia bluebells at Maple Grove Forest Preserve in Downers Grove.


Meacham Grove

The 255-acre Meacham Grove Forest Preserve in Bloomingdale features woodland groves, meadows and wetlands. The 48-acre state-designated Meacham Grove Nature Preserve on the west side of Bloomingdale-Roselle Road, one of the finest woodlands in DuPage County, features an abundance of spring wildflowers. To preserve this high-quality habitat, walk on the Savanna Trail to view large-flowered trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild geraniums and smooth Solomon’s seal.


Red trillium (Photo by © Justin Meissen)

Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn showcases a butterfly garden with landscape ideas to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Interpretive signs introduce necessary elements to provide suitable habitat including food, water and shelter. The area contains tagged plantings that are attractive to butterflies, and a sensory garden that abounds with sights, smells and textures. (Note: Willowbrook Wildlife Center, its trails and surrounding forest preserve are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) 


Annabelle hydrangea, cardinal flower, salvia and black-eyed Susan are among the flowers in the Willowbrook butterfly garden.


The butterfly garden at Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

Springbrook Prairie and James “Pate” Philip State Park

Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville and James “Pate” Philip State Park in Bartlett offer some of the best displays of summertime blooms including compass plant, purple coneflower, cup plant, black-eyed Susan, wild bergamot, New England aster, prairie blazing star and foxglove beardtongue. Stroll among the tall prairie grasses including big bluestem and Indian grass.


A red admiral on a purple coneflower.


Fullersburg Woods

Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve in Oak Brook is a great place to learn more about native wildflowers. Take a wildflower guide and follow the Wildflower Trail with labeled plants including celandine poppy, Virginia waterleaf, Jacob’s ladder, woodland phlox, Virginia bluebells, wild hyacinth, purple joe pye weed and many more. (Note: Parking at Fullersburg Woods is limited to DuPage residents at this time.)


Jack-in-the-pulpit can be found at Meacham Grove Forest Preserve in Bloomingdale.


Go Native in Your Garden Now!

Order native plants now for your garden through the Forest Preserve District's Native Plant Sale. Submit your order form by email or phone by May 17 and securely pay online by credit card. On June 5 or June 6 (you choose which day) pick up your order at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St. in Oak Brook, during the designated time slot based on the first letter of your last name. Pickups are curbside with limited person-to-person contact.

A – H          9 a.m. – Noon I – P           12 – 3 p.m. Q – Z         3 – 6 p.m.



Wild bergamot can be found at Springbrook Prairie and James "Pate" Philip State Park.



Yellow-headed coneflower


Topics: Insider, Plants, Conservation, Nature, native plant, Native Plant Sale

Written by Jennifer Rydzewski

Jennifer Rydzewski is a naturalist at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center. She has a B.S. in animal sciences and an M.S. in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an M.A. in zoology focusing on community-based conservation and experiential learning from Miami University. Her 10+ years of professional experience in environmental education include outdoor, classroom, community, zoo and residential camp settings. Her favorite things about being a naturalist are learning something new every single day and sharing excitement about nature with others.