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Summer 2010

Urban Jungle

The changing natural world at our doorsteps | Illustration and text by Patterson Clark      

July 13, 2010

Green foxtail provides reward for neglect

In July, green foxtail flower heads are prominent in unmowed lawns and weedy flowerbeds.

If it's too hot to work in the yard or you simply have more pressing concerns, you can still spare a brief moment to taste the fruits of summer indolence. Collect the treat by grabbing onto a foxtail flower and giving it a pull. The flower stalk will squeak out of its sheath, exposing a sweet, succulent tip on which to chew.

Join the crowd

The grass is native to Eurasia, growing best in disturbed areas. It's popular with wildlife. Seeds are eaten by sparrows, doves, blackbirds and mallards. House mice like them, too. Stink bugs and aphids suck the sweet juices. Least skipper caterpillars, flea beetles and grasshoppers eat the leaves.

Sources: USDA; www.illinoiswildflowers.info

Green foxtail, Setaria viridis