In the sandstone canyon at Starved Rock there is a boggy spot, there where the drip from the cliffs moves down the slope and stops in that saturated place where the deep mosses grow and the swamp saxifrage blooms in spring. The sun spends only a short part of the day in the canyon; the walls are steep. Pines stand tall on the hilltop; harebells cling to the rocks, and blueberries with small white bells blossom in the May warmth.
Saxifraga pennsylvanica L.
May. Sandstone canyons, swamps and bogs.
In that boggy spot, the swamp saxifrage sends up its lettuce-green Leaves. They grow in a broad rosette above the wet dark muck, shining pale green, Long-oval tapered leaves with an infinite look of freshness. From the center spring up one or more stout, downy pale stems topped with a tight cluster of buds. Then in late May the) open as tiny, greenish-white, five petaled, starry flowers with a slight fragrance. There in the hidden canyon where the soil of the canyon floor is a miniature bog, the swamp saxifrage blossoms and makes its seeds.
It is not common in Illinois. Its chosen haunt i- not a common...... in this prairie state. Yet there are those special, hidden places where a more northern habitat remains after it long ago left our territory. In the deep canyons of certain state park areas there are these relict plants, such as the white pines which by rights should have retreated northward at the proper time in post-glacial history. The swamp saxifrage, whose more common habitat is much further north and not in prairie country. is one of the plant- remaining in secret spots in northern Illinois.