Native prairie plants come back to Illinois

December 13, 2012

The Associated Press

Native plants including rare species are coming back under power lines in a research project in northern Illinois.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, ComEd and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are working together to convert overgrown utility corridors into native landscapes.

On research plots at Illinois Beach State Park, nearly 300 different plant species were recorded, including 40 newly identified species.

Plants have reappeared that once were common staples for early Midwestern settlers such as the ground nut and the scouring rush. Ground nut's meaty roots were boiled and eaten during winter. Stalks of the scouring rush were used to scrub pots and pans.

By 2016, project organizers hope to use what they're learning to restore native vegetation under thousands of miles of power lines throughout northern Illinois.