Butterfly Garden Installed in RU’s Schaumburg Campus Courtyard

Roosevelt University recently added a butterfly garden and Indian trail marker tree to a campus courtyard as part of its native landscaping efforts on the Schaumburg Campus. Here’s an account of the project by Amanda Butera, a grad student in biology at RU who completed the installation:

Butterfly gardens can be installed in your own back yard easily. It is fun to see the amount of wildlife they attract, and the prairie flowers are beautiful to look at. The plants selected for this butterfly garden were chosen to provide food sources for butterflies found in Cook County. There are over 50 species of butterflies in IL and around 40 are found in this county. Over 30 species will utilize the plants selected for this garden. The plants used are Aster laevis, Monarda fistulosa, Rudbeckia hirta, Asclepias tuberosa, Solidago rigida, Eupatorium purpureum, Asclepias incarnate, Fragaria chiloensis, Verbena stricta, Viola labradorica, Echinacea purpurea, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Ceanothus americanus and Azalea.

Butterfly garden and Indian marker tree at RU’s Schaumburg Campus, June 2012

It was also seeded with a native grass seed mix. Some of these species of plants cannot be found at popular chain landscaping supply stores, but they can be found at privately owned nurseries which specialize in native plants. After planting, it is important to water your plants at least twice a week for the first growing season, and weed regularly.

Not all adult butterflies feed on flower nectar. Other food sources include tree sap, animal/bird droppings, aphid honeydew, decomposing fruit and carrion. Some butterflies live in defined areas, such as woodland edges.

Indian Marker Trees were an ancient form of land and water navigation that were used by many Native American tribes and even later by fur traders and early pioneers. Examples of these trees have been found all across the United States. The Chicagoland area was once home to many marker trees; however, most have died or have been removed. The Swamp White Oak planted in the courtyard at Roosevelt will be shaped this fall by local artist Dennis Downes after the roots have been given time to grow into the soil.

There is an educational sign placed in the garden including more facts. For more information on butterfly gardens, please contact butera.landscapes@gmail.com — and for more information on Indian trail maker trees, please contact Downesstudio@earthlink.net or visit the Great Lakes Trail Tree Society on the web.

Great work, Amanda, on this project! Along with the recent installation of pervious paving in the courtyard’s walkway, this indoor/outdoor space at the heart of Schaumburg’s Campus, the butterfly garden itself marks a landmark moment in the transformation of the campus grounds into a more ecologically- and historically-rich landscape.

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