Chicago’s Unrivaled Biodiversity Detailed In 1400-Page Book, ‘Flora Of The Chicago Region’ | WBEZ
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Chicago's Unrivaled Biodiversity Detailed In 1400-Page Book, 'Flora Of The Chicago Region'

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Chicagoland is second to none when it comes to native plant biodiversity. The city’s six-county region, along with counties in Indiana and Wisconsin, is home to 1,867 native plant species — more than any national park in America. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park comes in second at 1,580 species.

Every day, for about six months of the year, you can experience a national park-quality blooming event in the Chicago region. How to find them? A new 1400-page book chronicles Chicago’s unrivaled plant biodiversity: Flora of the Chicago Region. A Floristic and Ecological Synthesis, by author and botanist Dr. Gerould Wilhelm.

April in Blue: At O'Hara Woods in Romeoville, Illinois, the April sun rises to warm the springtime woodland brimming with Virginia bluebells. (Mike MacDonald/ChicagoNatureNow!)

Nature photographer Mike MacDonald says his research reveals “we’ve nearly erased from the Earth the capacity for planet to renew itself”. He says his goal is not to create a “feely-good connection,” but explains, “why [biodiversity] is beautiful, why it needs to be preserved, and how it can be gone forever.” 

Worldview opens up the phones to listeners and talks with Wilhrem and MacDonald about how Midwesterners can save their money by exploring the unrivaled biodiversity of the tri-state region.


Mike MacDonald, a nature photographer and founder of ChicagoNatureNow!, an initiative to get people engaged with nature and author of the book My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago

Dr. Gerould Wilhelm, botanist/ecologist at Conservation Design Forum and formerly at the Morton Arboretum for over 20 years. He co-authored the book, Flora of the Chicago Region. A Floristic and Ecological Synthesis.

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