Flora & Fauna of the Dells

The 204-acre natural area that makes up Severson Dells includes eight distinct plant communities, specifically:

  • Young Successional Forest
  • Mature Oak and Maple Forest
  • Dry Hilltop Prairie
  • Sedge Meadow
  • Low Wet Prairie
  • Stream and Pond
  • Limestone Bluffs
  • Oldfield

Due to the variety of habitats, the area supports a great diversity of plants and wildlife. Over 180 species of birds have been observed, and springtime produces a prolific display of wildflowers in the woods.

The wetland areas are fed by springs that have created a highly organic, peaty soil that supports skunk cabbage, sedges, cattails, rushes, and other wetland species that have been nearly eliminated in northern Illinois.

Small patches of dry prairie contain rare native forbs (flowers) and grasses.


The diversity of habitats at Severson Dells supports a wide variety of plant species. Lists of many of the plant types have been compiled and are available on this web site as follows:

  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Vines
  • Forest Wildflowers
  • Prairie & Field Wildflowers
  • Aquatic Wildflowers
  • Ferns & Allies
  • Grasses & Sedges


In addition to a multitude of plants, the nature preserve plays host to many types of animals including birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Avid bird-watchers have compiled lists which are presented here in two parts:

Migratory Birds: Those that might pass through the Dells in the Spring and/or Fall.

Resident Birds: Those that may live at the Dells during some portion of each year.


Trees        Shrubs       Vines      Forest Wildflowers     Prairie Field Wildflowers