When you consider the common field crops in Illinois, it is no doubt that corn (Zea mays) has heavily influenced on agriculture.  However, broomcorn (Sorghum bicolor) is a lesser-known member of the grass family (Poaceae) with an agricultural history of its own in our state.  Its more closely related to other sorghums than it is to the most popular Poaceae member, Zea mays.

There are many oddities of the plant world that are hard to pass up without some questions.  Based on the perspective of the beholder, some of these strange phenomena may lead to either wonder or concern. 

One of my favorite plants of the late summer is the tall and tasseled titan, Joe-Pye Weed.  This common name refers to several native species which often require an additional descriptive word to identify individuals, although many of us drop the descriptor and simply say “Joe-Pye Weed”. 

poison hemlock flowers

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) has received a lot of attention lately, with reports of expanding populations statewide and subsequent increased human contact with this toxic plant. However, there is some confusion about the risk this plant poses to humans and animals, along with what measures should be taken for protection. 

The world of horticulture is ever changing with an increasing interest among plant lovers for more and more digital media.  While the internet has vastly expanded the amount of plant information available to the public as text, other forms of digital media, such as podcasts, YouTube videos, Facebook pages and even online Master Gardener training, are forging the way for new educational opportunities to expand our experiences with plants.