Three Elegant Native Plants in Bloom Now You May Not Know

Three Elegant Native Plants in Bloom Now You May Not Know

Prairie Cinquefoil 2

Prairie Cinquefoil (Drymocallis arguta)  formally known as Potentilla arguta

Clusters of blossoms with wide creamy or pale yellow petals surround a golden center at the top of a hairy, upright 2-3’ tall stem, in bloom from late June until late September.

While I planted it in my early garden, in recent years, I only have 2 plants left, one next to my driveway and one next to my west side sidewalk.  Unfortunately, I ran over the one next to the driveway this spring; fortunately,  it did survive.  But neither one of these lovely plants has reproduced, but I plan to add more of them to my gardens this fall or next spring.  It spreads primarily by small seeds distributed by the wind.  It has a central tap root, but it also produces rhizomes that help it move about, but it is never invasive.

In the wild, Prairie Cinquefoil is found in high quality remnants of dry and mesic prairies.

It is a plant of classic prairie elegance, built to withstand the droughts, the heat, the frigid cold, the wind, the raging fires, and then sprout in spring, all soft and beautiful.

Dick Young

Kane County Wild Plants &  Natural Areas


prairie cinquefoil & veronicastrum

In a mesic, sunny situation it mixes well with the elegant spires of Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), in bloom now, also.

Starry Campion 2

Starry Campion (Silene stellata)

These enchanting fringed stars begin to bloom in early July and last through September.  The flowering stem rises above a whorl of leaves on a central stalk 12-30” tall.

I originally planted Starry Campion in my savanna garden where it thrives in partial shade.  It has seeded itself about here and there, including one plant in my prairie garden, but it is never invasive.  Its stars close up in bright sun, but remain open in the darkest night.

At one point, Starry Campion grew next to the walk between my garage and my house–the bright white flowers lit up the path at night like a beacon.  Alas, the installation of a redbud tree next to the path made the area too shady for it to grow and it is no longer there.

Starry Campion and Bottlebrush Grass

It combines beautifully with Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix) in partial shade.

Starry Campion & Purple Cone Flower

In a sunnier area it mixes pleasingly with Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea) and Culver’s Root  (Veronicastrum virginicum).



Prairie Indian Plantain  (Arnoglossum plantagineum) formally Cacalia tuberosa.

To my eye, this is one of the most elegant forbs that grows on the prairie. Its tall stems branch near the top forming wide flat-topped clusters of creamy-white flower tufts.

cacalia laves

Its thick, waxy, parallel-veined, fine-toothed leaves are distinctive, as well.

Prairie Indian Plantain grows 3-4 feet tall, in bloom from early June to early August.  It  grows in nature in mesic or hydric soils, preferring calcareous soil.  It spreads by shallow, plump rhizomes, easily divided to plant elsewhere or given away.  The Genesis Nursery catalogue of January 1997 says it “thrives on division”.

Rare in the wild now, at one time it covered vast acres of ground.  “Wet prairies west of Chicago, very abundant, covering many acres of the marshy grasslands with its white blanket of bloom,” wrote H. S.  Pepoon in 1927, as quoted in Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, 1994.

These are the last of a fine breed that graced vast acres of our once rich and abundant prairie.

Dick Young

Kane County Wild Plants & Natural Areas

I first planted it with Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya), a  stunning combination; but alas, the Blazing Star winked out many years go.

blazing Star 2

The tall spires of  Prairie Blazing Star  make a striking contrast with the flat topped Prairie Indian Plantain.

I hope you will be adventurous  and add these unique native plants to your garden.





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