Vascular Plant Communities of the Green River Lowlands in Northwestern Illinois

John E. Ebinger, Loy R. Phillippe, William C. Handel, Connie J. Cunningham, William E. McClain, Randy N. Nyboer, Todd Bittner

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A few high-quality prairies still exist in the sand deposits of the Green River Lowlands. The most extensive remnants are in the Green River State Wildlife Area, Lee County, Illinois. Three upland prairie communities were surveyed; a dry sand prairie dominated by Schizachyrium scoparium, Ambrosia psilostachya, and Amorpha canescens; a dry-mesic sand prairie dominated by Sorghastrum nutans, Schizachyrium scoparium, Antennaria plantaginifolia, and Liatris aspera; and a mesic sand prairie where Sorghastrum nutans and Andropogon gerardii were the dominant grasses, and Parthenium integrifolium, Fragaria virginiana, Liatris pycnostachya, and Euthamia gymnospermoides the common forbs. The lowlands, which included approximately 325 ha, were dominated by the exotic Phalaris arundinacea, but high-quality wet sand prairie, sedge meadow, and marsh communities existed. The wet sand prairies were dominated by Spartina pectinata, Helianthus grosseserratus, and Solidago canadensis; the sedge meadows were dominated by Carex haydenii, Calamagrostis canadensis, and Persicaria coccinea; the marsh communities were divided into distinct vegetation zones. These vegetation zones were surveyed in 2002 and subjected to an extensive uncontrolled fire in 2005. Surveys completed in 2006 and 2007 were used to determine successional changes resulting from the fire. These studies suggested that most communities were returning to the species composition found before the 2005 fire.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
Pages (from-to)39–78
JournalIllinois Natural History Survey Bulletin
StatePublished - Oct 2009


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