This website is dedicated to one of the most fascinating and floristically rich areas anywhere—the Indiana Dunes. Bordering the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, the Dunes are a perfect storm of ecological diversity, where the western prairies meet the eastern deciduous forests amid a mosaic of wetlands, woods, prairies and savanna. Over 1000 vascular plant species have been recorded here. This extraordinary diversity persists amid a landscape that has been subjected to every indignity that man could muster—factories and refineries, power plants, rail yards, high tension power lines, and on and on. Special Vegetation is intended to be a source of inspiration and information for those interested in the region and, especially for those who call it “home.”

This blog takes its name from the landmark survey and report on the flora of our local national park—Special Vegetation of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. “Special Veg” as many refer to it, was commissioned by the National Park Service and authored by Dr. Gerould Wilhelm. The initial report was published in 1980 with a substantial revision a decade later. The 1990 edition defines “special vegetation” as “…[encompassing] certain specific floristic concepts considered locally important by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; there recognize aspects of floristic elements which can be described as ‘unique,’ ‘exemplary,’ ‘relict,’ ‘threatened,’ or ‘endangered.'”  So, yeah, really cool plants—often uncommon, sometimes extraordinarily so—in a very, very cool setting.