Keep on keeping on

It’s a busy day here at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Art, Char, Suzie, and Suzanne were all in this morning, counting achenes and cleaning heads. We’re about 75% through Bag 5 out of 12. I’ve continue to dry and freeze seeds from 2014 and stay busy with my common garden experiment out at Rollins Savanna in Grayslake, IL. We were also excited to welcome our new volunteer Ivy, to Team Echinacea!

Everyone hard at work and enjoying some coffee!

Everyone hard at work and enjoying some coffee!

Preparation for freezing

This week the crew pushed on cleaning and re-checking seeds and counting achenes. I spent a good amount of time prepping seeds to be frozen for long term storage. These seeds are from several different experiments in 2013 and 2014 and have not been X-rayed. They must be placed in the dryer for two weeks, which removes enough internal moisture to avoid the seed rupturing when frozen at -20 degrees Celsius. These E. angustifolia seeds join the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank here at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This collection has aimed to bank at least one representative sample of every species found in the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Multiple populations have also been sampled for more than 500 species that are deemed critical to prairie restoration, so our seeds are in good company!

Seeds from multiple experiments in 2013 going in the dryer.

Seeds from multiple experiments in 2013 going in the dryer.

Making progress on cleaning and re-checking!

It’s been steady work back here at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The heads from exPt2 collected in 2015 have begun to be re-checked for any remaining achenes. We’re also about halfway done cleaning the heads from the 4th of 12 bags for exPt2. Overall, this is a BIG job as 1,215 heads were collected last year in this plot, an amount nearly five times the amount of heads seen in 2014. Only time will tell how this year will compare! Everyone in the lab and in the field keep up the great work!


Char, Aldo, and Susie cleaning heads from exPt2.


Leslie making sure the heads are cleaned of all achenes.


My name is Chris Woolridge and I’m very excited to begin as a Seasonal Researcher with the Echinacea Project this summer! I’ll be helping Danny and the citizen scientists in the lab while the rest of the team is in Minnesota conducting field work. I’m currently a graduate student in the Plant Biology and Conservation Program at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University. My research is focused on better informing seed sourcing for restorations. Some researchers and managers have proposed sourcing seed from more southern latitudes to foster populations that are pre-adapted to climate change. In order to test this strategy’s feasibility, I’m conducting a common garden experiment in Grayslake, IL, investigating relative fitness of plants sourced across a latitudinal gradient in five savanna/prairie species used in restorations. With that being said, I’m very interested in the questions the Echinacea Project is asking and I’m thrilled to be joining the team!