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Will County Audubon Chapter to offer program on flowers and fruits

Kenneth Robertson, retired University of Illinois professor of plant taxonomy, uses detailed close-up photography to illustrate the adaptations of prairie plants to entice insects and animals to pollinate their flowers and disperse their seeds.
Kenneth Robertson, retired University of Illinois professor of plant taxonomy, uses detailed close-up photography to illustrate the adaptations of prairie plants to entice insects and animals to pollinate their flowers and disperse their seeds.

JOLIET – Appreciation.

That’s what Kenneth Robertson, retired University of Illinois professor of plant taxonomy, hopes people will gain from his presentation.

Using his close-up photography, Robertson will discuss “Prairie Plants Close-Up, The Hidden World of Flowers and Fruits” on Sept. 8 at the monthly meeting of the Will County Audubon Chapter at Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet.

Some of the topics Robertson will address include the diversity in size, shape, color and fragrance of flowers, the reasons plants make flowers and the varied ways pollination occurs.

For instance, certain flowers have long tubes to hold nectar in place, useful for hovering moths.

Once armed with this knowledge, people will never see gardens and produce bins the same way.

“When you stop to really look at a flower, dissect it and tear it apart, you’ll just be amazed,” Robertson said. “There’s so much to learn.”

Anything with a seed inside is botanically a fruit, Robertson said, and that includes bell peppers, okra and tomatoes. Most people never view a strawberry the same way once Robertson takes them through each part, step by step.

Gardeners with an affinity for ginkgo trees might want to plant a male tree. Yes, some trees come in male or female.

“The female ginkgo tree produces a big giant seed that smells really terrible,” Robertson said.

And since Robertson is presenting to a birding organization, why is plant knowledge important?

“If you’re a naturalist, you’ll want plants in the garden to attract certain kinds of critters,” Robertson said. “You’ll want to know what birds are attracted to fleshy fruit or thistles of dry seed so you can plant the plants ahead of time.”

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: Prairie Plants Close-Up, The Hidden World of Flowers and Fruits

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sept. 8

WHERE: Pilcher Park Nature Center, 2501 Highland Park Drive, Joliet

ETC: Speaker is Kenneth Robertson, retired University of Illinois professor of plant taxonomy. Program is presented by the Will County Audubon Chapter

VISIT: www.willcountyaudubon.org

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KNOW MORE

According to a flier from the Will County Audubon Chapter, Kenneth Robertson retired from Illinois History Survey, a unit of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he taught plant taxonomy for over 20 years.

Robertson spent many years conducting field research in Illinois natural areas, especially prairies, and he gives frequent presentations on plants native to Illinois. He is the co-author of “Illinois Wilds” and has an extensive website featuring plants of Illinois prairies and other wild areas.

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