I'm east of the old prairie, but when my daughter lived in Brookston in NW Indiana, you could tell exactly when you reached the prairie there at the edge of town. Going west on In. SR 18 it was all farm land and prairie landscape with few trees for miles and miles ...
The prairie here, just west of Chicago, tends to be marshy, and the trees like to encroach wherever they can.
The suburbs encroach, too, on the open land, and the suburbs bring more trees. Last year we had the 17 yr cicadas. Where I live now, it was once all prairie, and we didn't get a whole lot of cicadas, but 2 miles north, in the old part of the suburb, the din was overwhelming. There will be more cicadas here 17 years from now.
Great article! I moved from Palatine to Ottawa, IL (90 miles SW of Chicago) 2 years ago and I'm just discovering the joy of wildflowers. Your article was helpful and I look forward to the remaining installments.
I grew up in southeast Wisconsin and every year the shooting stars and Mayapples were all over the wooded lots in back of us. Eventually all of those lots sold, the trees were cut down and houses built for "just off the lake" property. It made me so sad and I'm hoping that somewhere around that area, there is a place where you can still see them bloom in the spring.