Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beautiful flora

I've seen scores of interesting plants on this trip, a run through the upper reaches of the Great Lakes. If you are from down my way, Ohio, it is a real treat to see these northerners, many of which are very rare down that way. Following are some of the species that I've photographed over the past two days.

North shore of Lake Michigan. Buffered by impressive sand dunes, filled with impressive plants. I was excited to find the plant in the bottom center of the photo.

Lake Huron Tansy, Tanacetum bipinnatum ssp. huronense, confined to sandy dunes bordering lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior.

Beach Pea, Lathyrus japonicus, another beach dune specialist.

A truly elfin dogwood, Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, which can carpet large areas of cool woods.

Teaberry, Gaultheria procumbens.

Northern Blue Flag, Iris versicolor. It is abundant in wetlands around the upper Great Lakes.

I was delighted to see this patch of a truly remarkable wildflower.

Twinflower, Linnaea borealis, named for the great Swedish naturalist and father of the system of binomial nomenclature, Carolus Linnaeus. This delicate beauty was allegedly his favorite plant.

Although it stands but a few inches in height, Twinflower is actually a tiny shrublet. The flowers dangle on pendant wiry pedicels, and emit a wonderful fragrance. This species is one of the true delights of northern forest botany.

Wood Lily, Lilium philadelphicum. In this spot it was growing as a roadside weed of sorts.

Spreading Dogbane, Apocynum androsaemifolium, a very showy dogbane and quite common locally.

It was a treat to see this little figwort growing commonly in conifer-dominated forests. It is Cow-wheat, Melampyrum lineare.

Pink Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium acaule. There were large platoons of this incredible orchid covering acidic woods, intermixed with many other interesting plants.

A mist of Narrow-leaved Cottongrass, Eriophorum angustifolium, drifts across a wet sedge meadow. At least this is what I think it is, but it's not one I''m familiar with. If anyone knows better and can correct the ID, please let me know.

This swale, part of a ribbed fen complex, was chockful of intriguing plants, and I also saw some great dragonflies. While walking in to photograph the plants, I kicked up a Wilson's Snipe.



Jana said...

Wow, what a stunning collection!

(The only teaberry I knew of was in Teaberry chewing gum back in the 60s.)

Scott said...

Hey Jim. Great photos. I was recently in Superior, Wisconsin, and I can't get enough of that northern flora!

Regarding the Eriophorum, I don't think it's E. angustifolium, because all of the stems seem to have solitary spikelets, and I don't see any leaflike bracts; E. angustifolium should have 2 to several spikelets and leaflike involucral bracts. I would lean towards either E. vaginatum, E. brachyantherum, or E. callitrix, but I've only seen one of these (E. vaginatum), and only once. Hopefully someone can narrow it down more from here.

Weedpicker Cheryl said...


Looks like a fantastic trip!

Linnaeus certainly knew how to "pick" them, the Twinflower is lovely!

dAwN said...

Great wildflowers..I am thinking I have seen that dogbane before...does it have a really fragrant odor?

Jim McCormac said...

Hi all,

Thanks for the comments, and yes, it has been a good trip. The plants up here are awesome! Just bring lots of bug spray - the mosquitoes can be beyond fierce!

Dawn, I don't recall any aroma from the Spreading Dogbane, but then I don't think I've ever stuck my nose in to the flowers. It musy have some charms as butterflies love 'em!

Scott, thanks for your comments. I agree, some characters don't add up for Eriophorum angustifolium and I don't like that ID. The only two cottongrasses listed for Seney are that one and E. virginicum, and I know it isn't the latter. I'll be curious to learn what it is, and should be able to pin it down when I get back to my Volume 1 of the Michigan Flora.


Brad said...

That mystery species is Trichophorum alpinum, one of the characteristic sedges of flarks in patterned fen complexes. Now, this would be a fun one to find in Ohio (let alone southern Michigan).

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks for the ID, Brad. That's a new one on me - I really must spend more time in the north! Our Trichophorum planifolium of woodlands looks nothing like that!


Scott said...

Never heard of Trichophorum alpinum. I thought something about it looked strange for an Eriophorum... nice call, Brad!