Blogs & Videos: Plants

Group of people posing next to river

Hitting the Pavement to Save Endangered Plants

What if a rare plant is living right in your backyard? Well, it just might be. But how do you find out it’s there, and what can you do with that information? Right now, some local endangered plant species are making a surprise comeback. They grow in the Calumet region, which includes the southern part of Chicago and northern Indiana. Two kinds of sedge, a grass-like flowering plant, recently set down roots on a field of slag. This hard material comes from making steel and is usually seen as toxic to nature.  

The 12 plants of Christmas

Although many of us imagine evergreens to be towering holiday pines of fragrant wreaths, "evergreen" refers to any plant that retains its color throughout the year. Depending on what part of the world you are in, evergreens can look very different. In tropical places, almost all plants keep their leaves year-round and are therefore considered evergreen, whereas in more temperate environments conifers are the most conspicuous plants to remain green in the winter.

Born from the Ashes

You know that part in Game of Thrones where the dragon eggs hatch when they’re put in fire? This is like that, but with a super-endangered flower. Illinois’s only native wildflower, the Kankakee mallow, has been missing from this state for years—it was presumed extinct in its native habitat. But this year, Field Museum scientists and volunteers from the Friends of Langham Island group were able to bring it back. Their secret? Setting fire to the ground where the plants once lived.

Field Museum Women in Science (FMWIS) Internships 2014 -- Jessica Mohlman

Learn about Jessica Mohlman and her FMWIS project, “Southern Mexican Economic Botany”. Within the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, there is an excavation site by the name of El Palmillo, a hilltop terrace community which once held the residence of the Zapotec people. While this area was one of the driest in the Valley of Oaxaca, it had some of the largest populations after the Classic Period. The communities were able to survive due to drought resistant plants. These drought resistant plants were used for food, alcohol, medicine, and sources of fiber within this region.

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