Saturday, May 25, 2013

Canada Fly Honeysuckle

I'm back from ten days in northern Michigan's Presque Isle County, and wading through scores of photos. I was up there for the fourth year in a row, leading excursions in partnership with the NettieBay Lodge. Between the two groups (I get a day of rest between), a total of 17 people were along and we saw lots of stuff. Birds are a priority, and we did well, mustering a total of 160 species. Notably, one-quarter of that total was sparrows (13 species) and warblers (27 species).
But there is plenty of nonbird stuff to see: Porcupine, Eastern Hognosed Snake, Blanding's Turtle, Snowshoe Hare, and more. And I would not want to forget the plants. Presque Isle County is insanely diverse in habitats, and a botanical wonderland. Following is a cool plant of the North Woods, and a species that an Ohio botanist would be quite pleased to see in the Buckeye State.
The low shrubs in the foreground are Canada Fly Honeysuckle, Lonicera canadensis, a plant of cool northern woods. It barely extends south into Ohio, and can be found in only a handful of counties in the northeastern corner of the state. In northern Michigan it is common, and easy to find in suitable habitat.

Canada Fly Honeysuckle is rather nondescript when out of flower, but when in bloom it is quite showy. The dangling bell-shaped flowers turn pinkish with age. Later, bright red berries will adorn its peduncles.

Note the cilia fringing the base of the leaf, a character that helps to separate this species from another somewhat similar species of native bush honeysuckle.

Where I live, in Columbus, the nonnative bush honeysuckles has proliferated to the point of noxiousness. Up in Presque Isle County, the invasive honeysuckles are not nearly as problematic and do not overtake the woodlands, at least in the places that I have been. Here's hoping it stays that way, and the native honeysuckles continue to flourish.

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