The river forest is dark and sometimes eerie and brooding in the half light which finds its way through the dense leafy canopy held high above the ground. The ground is covered in summer with a low jungle of stinging nettles and jewel-weed with a scattering of other plants which grow in the hard, caked ground. The trees are mostly tall - the giant white-armed sycamores, the elegant elms, the broad and leafy silver maples: these are the tall trees of the bottomlands. Sometimes there are pecan trees along the Illinois and the Mississippi. Below them as a middle strata are papaw trees, wahoos, bladdernuts, redbuds, spicebush.
Campsis radicans ( L.) Seem.
Summer. Bottomland woods. sands. roadsides.
And from the tall trunks of the trees there hang the tremendous festoons of trumpet-vine, illuminator of darkness.
The vine starts up from a deep, woody root and sends up at first weak green vines. In the passing of years, however, the stem becomes woody and trunk-like, from which each year's new growth springs, grows woody, and matures. The stem twines firmly around trees and hangs great green draperies of compound leaves. Among them shine the bright red-orange trumpet flowers which are visited by hummingbirds all summer long. The seeds form in large bean-like pods which in winter split lengthwise and let the flat, paper-winged seeds flutter into the woods. There are several manners of growth among the trumpet-vines, only one species of which is recognized for Illinois. Some may grow to great heights in forest trees. Others never climb hut sprawl over undergrowth and do not put out much length of vine. In open lowlands, along fences, in open situations, the vine is more woody and forms a bush.