Plants

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  1. Cottonwood

    Explore how this flowering tree makes its presence known throughout the summer with its red wooly"caterpillars," its "cotton wisps" and its invasive root systems. The excess of pollen, produced by the male Cottonwood, helps ensure that fertilization of the female plants. This display features some of the uses of the Cottonwood and the different components of the tree. Learn More
  2. Spore Bearing Mushrooms 2

    Did you know that mushrooms use spores instead of seeds? In this case we explore the different types of spore locations and dispersal. A number of specimens are shown here including coral, honeycomb, horn of plenty, bear's-head, and the scarlet fairy cup mushrooms. All of which are both edible and unique in their spore developing regions. Learn More
  3. Veiled Gilled Mushrooms

    Did you know that mushrooms belong to the fungi kingdom, which also includes mildews, molds, rusts, and yeasts? Lacking a true root system, as well as chlorophyll, fungi are usually detrivores and among the only organisms which can decompose wood. A number of specimens are shown here, including the Sulphur polypore, Pearshaped Puffball, Parosol, and the Dog Stinkhorn. Learn More
  4. Edible Gilled Mushrooms

    Take a look in your backyard for some of these common edible gilled mushrooms! All of these mushrooms bear spores on their gills and are part of the class Agaricomycetes. They have caps that look like umbrellas. Specimens include the conic wax cap, the chanterelle, the white pin wheel, the common meadow, and the shaggy mane mushrooms. Learn More
  5. Violets

    Delve into the beautiful world of violets, of which there are over 75 kinds growing in the United States today. Did you know, for instance, that garden variety pansies are a part of the violet family? A smattering of samples exhibits the sweet variety found within. Learn More
  6. Yellow Lady's Slipper (Deer Management)

    Prance into the world of the deer, one of our most frequent connections to the natural world. Urban expansion has created the need, however, for drastic measures to keep the numbers of these abundant animals in check. Witness a few of the ways we protect our land when deer run rampant. Learn More
  7. Origin of Coal

    Discover the incredibly time consuming process nature uses to create coal. Closely linked to fossilization, the various stages of coal production are displayed in samples here. Learn More
  8. Fossil Plants of Illinois

    These fossils are from Mazon Creek region in Northeastern Illinois. They are from the Pennsylvanian Period of over 300 million years ago. Marvel in the beauty of these plant shapes and forms, incredibly preserved in ironstone concretions. Learn More
  9. Rubber

    Bounce into the fascinating world of rubber production. Rubber is, and was, an important resource in Middle America. Extracted from milkweed trees, rubber is exposed to acid, sulphur and high heat to create a variety of useful materials. Rubber was imported into Central Mexico from Veracruz. Learn More
  10. Spiderwort

    Growing knee high, spiderworts are distinctive late spring and early summer prairie wildflowers. Their blue purple flowers standout amongst the green of the spring-green vegetation. Learn More

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