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Nature's Technicolor Dreamcoat: The science of fall color

You feel it, don't you? Sunrise coming later, sunset earlier, and the roller rink of acorns underfoot. The change of seasons is well underway. And just as you are pulling out your flannel shirts, wool socks, and warm gloves the trees and shrubs are also pulling out their fall wardrobe. The vivid reds, rich purples, buttery yellows, and that almost indescribable fiery rosy orange of Illinois' deciduous trees and shrubs are a visual feast! Fall color in the Upper Midwest is so striking some...
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A personal run-in with the invasive gypsy moth

My family and I recently traveled out of state to drop my oldest daughter off at a summer college program. We were taking this opportunity to do some camping and exploring of the public lands in the upper Midwest. As we traveled down a forest-lined highway en route to our planned national forest campground, we were astonished that, for literally miles, almost every tree in sight was completely devoid of leaves even though it was in the middle of summer.  Not knowing what was going on, I had to...
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Species Profile: White Oak

The mighty white oak tree, Quercus alba, has long been the subject of folklore and legend. Sometimes called the “King of Trees,” the oak is often associated with titans in the pagan pantheon, Zeus and Thor to name just two. In Illinois, we recognize its importance and have named the white oak our state tree. We celebrate the month of October as Oak Awareness Month or Oaktober fest. These trees, which can grow 50 to...
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