“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”  William Feather

People who are passionate about prairie restoration are a rare breed. However, as the number of these prairie warriors grow, so too will the numbers of successfully grown rare and endangered plants in our states.  We recently heard about some tiny successes with rare plants on a small farm in Illinois that are huge reasons for celebration.

Wood Lily blooming – Photo by Rickie Rachuy

Where others might plant a seed and just move on if a plant didn’t grow, prairie enthusiasts often find the most rare or endangered plants and work for years to get just a single bloom on one plant. It is this grit and determination that will, over time, make an incredible difference in ecosystems across the upper Midwest.

One such story is unfolding in Stockton, Illinois. NIPEs Rickie Rachuy is thrilled to share some exciting success stories in the rare plants garden at Lonetree Farm.  

Hill’s Thistle – Photo by Rickie Rachuy


– The first blooms on Asclepias purpurascens, started from seed in 2015

– The first seedlings of Gentianella quinquefolia after three years of trying to get wild-harvested seed to germinate

– The first flowers on Lilium philadelphicum (wood lily) from seed donated by Kathie Brock after the initial seedlings were uprooted by raccoons in 2017

– The first flowers on Circium hillii (Hill’s thistle) from seed donated by Tom Mitchell in 2019

– Several healthy Clematis pitcherii plants from cuttings taken from the only known plant in northwest Illinois

– One seedling of Clematis occidentalis, from Prairie Moon seed started Feb. 1, 2020  

Karen Reed, newest addition to the NIPE team, and garden/seed shed helper. (Photo by Rickie Rachuy)

Thank you for sharing this great news, Rickie. While to the general population, these may appear to be little events, in the world of prairie restoration, these are some moments to truly treasure and celebrate. We can’t wait to have an update a year from now to hear how things are going. 

Do you have some success stories you would like to share? Please send those to ksolverson@theprairieenthusiasts.org for possible inclusion in one of our future newsletters.