Illinois Flowers: Pictures and Great Identification Tips

picture of a common blue violet, the state flower of Illinois, and part of the Illinois flowers section

Any discussion covering flowers and flower garden resources in the Land of Lincoln necessarily starts by celebrating the purple violet, the official Illinois state flower. Violets, and all their hybrid varieties that go by the name pansies are always a go to ground cover flower during spring, summer and fall gardening seasons.

Less well known is the fact that all violets do double duty. For example, Illinois residents interested in creating a Butterfly Garden will be happy to know that their violets provide food for the larvae of Variegated Fritillary Butterflies. Even better, the seven page Illinois Butterfly Garden publication provides excellent information on a variety of native plants that provide nectar for adults as well as a larval food source for most native butterfly species.

If an Illinois flowers and flower garden resource guide ended with that fact, it would be a resounding success. This particular guide provides a handful of resources to help with basic Illinois flower identification and garden tips from Illinois experts. Here’s hoping it becomes your one stop shop for all questions related to Illinois flowers.

Illinois Flowers: The Basics

picture of a yellow lady's slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum), an Illinois endangered plant
Most horticulturists discuss flower gardening as an enjoyable hobby. Most flower garden enthusiasts would agree, with a few caveats.

The existence of endangered flowers such as the native Illinois Yellow Lady’s Slipper highlights the fact that all flowers are not created equal. Some require specialized habitats to thrive. Protecting the woodland areas that support endangered flowers might be the only way they survive in the state.

Happily, exceptions to the easy garden rule are limited. All Illinois gardeners can improve on their skills by starting with a great resource simply titled Designing a Flower Garden. It provides the basics of flower garden from soil analysis to flower selection. The tips work with all Illinois garden zones, which are stated as follows:

  • Zone 4 (parts of Stephenson, JoDaviess, Lake, and McHenry counties)
  • Zone 5, most of northern Illinois
  • Zone 6, most of central Illinois
  • Zone 7, most of southern Illinois and parts of central Illinois

picture of a white-fawn-lily
The availability of garden resources for Chicago residents continues to grow, especially because of the ease of internet publishing. One especially helpful resource, Native Plant Identification Guide provides pictures and information covering a host of native plants suited for Chicago gardens. Additionally, it provides information on leaf identification, an important task in the how to identify native flowering plants process during the times when the plants are not in flower.

The emergence of local plant nurseries and big box stores as anchors for a billion dollar horticulture industry speaks to the popularity of annual flowers for the garden. Another resource, Suggested Annual Flowers for Illinois confirms what many seasoned gardeners already know. Many native flowering plants and their hybrids grow almost effortlessly. Garden favorites from A to Z are covered. For example, when in doubt garden annuals such as geraniums and zinnias always shine.

picture of Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
OK, but what about Illinois flowers? Good question. Multiple Illinois flower guide books are available from local independent booksellers.

In an age of big to monopoly sized book sellers, keeping the independents going is important. For those interested in some free Illinois flower resources that include nice pictures, consider the following three resources. All the reader need do is click on the link and right click on the mouse to download them to the computer, or with mobile devices, press the download button on the device.

In terms of sheer volume, the first resource, Native Plant Guide is well worth the read. It’s book size (181 pages) and provides black and white drawings and information on native flowers and grasses, especially in the Northeast. The author’s market the publication as follows:

Since its original release, the Native Plant Guide has been widely utilized as a reference in northeastern Illinois, elsewhere in Illinois and other states. It is commonly referenced in stormwater management, soil erosion and sediment control, and detention ordinances—particularly in northeastern Illinois.

Residents interested in learning about a wide array of important native plants would do themselves a favor by browsing through the book.

Readers interested in a quicker read with pictures will be happy browsing through Illinois Wildflowers and Grasses. The ten page pamphlet consists primarily of pictures with short descriptions of some Illinois wildflower favorites.

Woodland Wildflowers of Illinois are an especially interesting group to follow.

Delightful species such as the Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), pictured, also are a nice choice for yards with shaded areas. Look for them as well as others such as:

  • Bloodroot
  • Common Blue Violet
  • False Solomon’s Seal
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Liverwort
  • Swamp Buttercup
  • Wild Columbine

Press the green state button at the top of the to discover all the additional Illinois topics covered.

Everyone interested in more flower identification help can press the green flowers button on the left.