The rock-studded gravelly shoreline spread out before us is not a hospitable environment for most plants. If chlorophyll coursed through your veins, and you were thinking of plunking down roots in this place, you'd be wise to pick a new spot. Take note of the White Cedars and other conifers in the backdrop. They display the Krummholz effect - a stunted twisting of conifers that are subjected to regular strong icy winds. Lake Huron, off to the right, regularly offers up gales and attendant brutal winds that smash and distort the lakeside trees. Not only that, but the rocky plain in the foreground is often pounded by punishing walls of water during storms. Come winter, comes ice. The lake drives piles of it ashore, and the ice scours the shoreline with the force of a fleet of caterpillar bulldozers.
As I said, this is no place to be if you are a refined plant, used to tender soils and balmy climes.
Bird's-eye Primrose, Primula mistassinica, in these areas.
Life is easier, and more diverse, in these nearshore forests than on the open lakeshore. Breeding birds abound, and plant diversity spikes appreciably. Walking through the transition between these places is always fascinating, and our mile round-trip from parking lot to lakeshore and back can easily take several hours. We typically return with an enormous list of flora and fauna, and a better appreciation of Great Lakes ecology.