Botanical Treasures of the Calumet Dunes

These botanical specimens document the Calumet’s biodiverse dune and swale landscape. The plants were collected by George M. Pinneo, an active botanist, who also served as Gary YMCA director, and was an Olympic wrestling coach. Mr. Pinneo was on the board of directors of the National Dunes Park Association, the first organization to fight for the conservation and stewardship of the Calumet landscape.

This beautiful landscaping staple was a secret threat. Many plants in the Calumet landscape are relative newcomers, like the Forget-Me-Not, brought by European immigrants who unknowingly put it in their new gardens. In some areas, this delicate flower disrupts the native ecosystem.

Wild Forget-Me-Not
Gary Public Library

The Bird Foot Violet is a plant of true sandy oak savannas and a staple of the northern reaches of Lake County and the Indiana Dunes. The caterpillars of various Fritillary butterflies feed on the foliage and flowers, and ants help distribute its seeds.

Bird Foot Violet
Gary Public Library

Arrow grasses grow where few plants thrive. They have adapted to the low-nutrient, sandy soil of the wetland part of dune and swale.

Arrow Grass
Gary Public Library

You might think the only place to get orchids around here is the florist, but think again: this species grows wild all over our region’s peat bogs and wetlands. 

Grass Pink Orchid
Gary Public Library

Explore more about Natural Opportunity

Saving Some Space for Nature
For the last century, Northwest Indiana residents have advocated…

Farming and Harvesting
Native Americans were the first to develop industry in the Calumet region…

Recreation and Tourism
With the arrival of passenger rail in the Calumet Region…

Natural Opportunity: Introduction
Explore how natural opportunities have shaped–and continue to shape–the region...

Explore other themes by clicking the photos below

Industrial Opportunity

Social Opportunity

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