Illinois: Arboretum knows little of native flora that once lived there

Generations of scientists from the Morton Arboretum have investigated
forest and woodland plants across the globe, bringing back thousands
of trees, shrubs and other plants to study and grow on 1,700 acres in
Lisle. But for all their knowledge of far-flung ecosystems, the
arboretum’s scientists had never looked very deeply at the one that
used to dominate their own property—the one that thrived before
European settlers cut it down and plowed it under.

Now a team of
scientists and volunteers is researching that vanished ecosystem and
beginning to try to replicate it on a 60-acre demonstration plot in
the arboretum’s popular East Woods. Just two years in, they already
are seeing long-dormant native plants rebounding in an area formerly
choked with invasive species. The team believes what they are gleaning
from history and experimentation will be invaluable to land
conservation efforts all over the upper Midwest, especially prairie
savanna landscapes.,0,122243.story

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