Otto: Looking to unlock the secrets of the Monkey House
The Hickory Knolls Natural Area contains some of the most ecologically diverse terrain within the St. Charles Park District. Woodlands, wetlands, prairies – including a rare hill prairie – make up these 130 acres just west of the Discovery Center and are home to more plant and animal species than you can shake a lichen-crusted oaken stick at.
Plants too rare to name flourish alongside more common but equally remarkable species such as marsh marigold and bloodroot, leadplant and the silphium quadruplets, compass plant, prairie dock, rosinweed and cup plant.
Such floral diversity brings equally wide-ranging faunal associations – spring peepers, eastern screech owls, red fox, 13-lined ground squirrels, robust populations of tree swallows and eastern bluebirds and maybe, at one time ... monkeys.
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