UIC's James Woodworth Prairie Preserve

An Illinois Prairie Remnant

UIC's James Woodworth Prairie Preserve is closed for the season but will re-open on Saturdays in mid to late March.

JWP has a full roster of guides for the coming season and is no longer accepting applications.

Prairie from Paul Rouffa on Vimeo.

Impressions of James Woodworth Prairie Preserve.


The prairie is located on Milwaukee Ave in Glenview.

What is a PRAIRIE?

A prairie is a close-to-treeless grassland with native plants found in North America. Grasslands with native vegetation on other continents go by other names (steppe, pampas, veldt). The 'sea of grass' and endless horizon associated with prairie by pioneers is no longer found in Illinois. Some large prairies still exist in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Prairies are rare in the 'Prairie State'. Most Illinois prairies were destroyed by the plow, but even those that were not rarely maintain presettlement plant communities because the suppression of fire has resulted in encroachment by woody plants. Treeless areas that are not dominated by native prairie plants are more appropriately called old fields. A slide show provides additional detail. 

The James Woodworth Prairie Preserve Mission

Our mission is to maintain populations of native prairie plants and invertebrate animals with abundances as close as possible to those prior to agriculture, so researchers and interested citizens have a place to study and enjoy what pre-settlement prairie was like.

Research has been done on 1) the role of animals in building soil, 2) reverse fertilization to reduce the impact of atmospheric nitrogen deposition, 3) the reason remnant prairies are so much shorter than restorations, 4) population dynamics of the prairie cicada.

Management activities focus on 1) processes (fire and water), 2) the elimination of non-native species, 3) enhancing abundance of autocthonous species with small population sizes, and 4) controlling overabundant native species.

James Woodworth Prairie (JWP) also plays a role in educating citizens about Illinois prairie.

Google Earth images of the Prairie since 1998

1998Apr 2002Nov 2005Apr 2005Aug

2005Dec 2007Oct 2008May 2010Jul

This website has many beautiful pictures from the prairie.


31 May 2010 Panorama

By Frank Mayfield

Set zoom % to 'actual size' (= ctrl+1) and use the scroll bar to pan the entire prairie .

Frank Mayfield of black sweater art, inc has published Abundant Splendor, and Elusive Spendor, focusing on common and uncommon plants, respectively, with all photos exclusively from the James Woodworth Prairie.

Cypripedium candidum, White Ladies Slipper

, surrounded by Comandra umbellata, Fragaria virginica and Oxalis violacea in a recently burned section in May 2008. Photo by Dr. Albert Rouffa.

10 acres of the 140 acre Peacock farm was left in its natural state, mesic prairie, until sold to a developer in 1956. Part was used for residential development, and another part had some commercial development. In 1966 a successful effort to preserve the prairie because it was prairie started. The story of that effort is told in Saving Peacock Prairie by Bernice Popelka (2011, ISBN 978-1-4507-7666-0). The prairie is owned by the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago and has been named the James Woodworth Prairie (JWP) honoring an early IL congressmen and Chicago mayor.

Mesic black soil tallgrass prairie is only one of many natural communities that existed in the Chicago region. Our rich natural area heritage includes forest, woodlands, savannas, prairies, marshes, bogs and fens on both coarse (sand) and fine (black) soil major soil classes and various levels of wetness.

May 2008

Bernice Popelka's book, "Saving Peacock Prairie", is available from Whispering Grasses, P.O.Box 241211, Milwaukee WI 53224

Most Recent Annual Report

Past Annual Reports


Dr. Alan Molumby, Director
Department of Biological Sciences,
University of Illinois at Chicago
845 West Taylor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Email: molumby@uic.edu