Friday, October 13, 2017

(Photos) Wildflowers of the Northwoods

This summer Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I traveled to the Northwoods region of Wisconsin and Michigan. She'd never been there before--I visited just once prior. And of course we brought our cameras and photographed many wildflowers.

Where do I start? Well, at the beginning of course. The first flower I noticed was this roadside denizen, orange hawkweed. There are loads of them in northern Wisconsin and on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This dandelion-like flower--although its blooms are smaller--is also an alien species. Pliny the Elder claims that hawks fed on this wildflower, which is native to alpine parts of southern and central Europe, to improve their eyesight. This flower, as with the next four, was photographed in St. Germain, Wisconsin.

I'd never seen on obedient plant until I snapped this shot. And six weeks later I found another one here in Illinois. As I quipped then, the obedient plant, which gets its name because when twisted its purple blooms return to their prior position, should instead be dubbed the disobedient plant. Note the ferns in the background--they are very common in upper Wisconsin.

The only member of the columbine that is native to the eastern half of the nation is the wild columbine. I found this one alongside a road near Little St. Germain Lake.

Common mullein is a favorite of mine, although it too is another Old World interloper. It's not obnoxiously invasive like teasels or spotted knapweed. We'll get to knapweed in a bit  This plant was photographed along the St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail.

Another shot from the same trail and another Eurasian invader, this time it's the ox-eye daisy.

Just over the border in Watersmeet, Michigan I found a musk mallow, a garden escapee originally from Europe.

Oh dear, it's another alien invader, but another very attractive one, the wild sweet pea, also known as the everlasting pea. A native of southern Europe, this species was probably brought to this spot, what is now the Quincy Mining Company Historic District on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, by immigrants from that part of the world. I've only seen this pink flower in two places--the Keweenaw Peninsula on the U.P. and in Detroit. Interestingly, during the Great Depression many copper miners and their families relocated to the Motor City in search of work. Did they bring wild sweet pea seeds with them? I say, yes, they probably did.

Okay, now it's time to Make Wildflowers American Again. Well, sort of. That's a harebell, known as bluebells in Europe. They are native in both hemispheres. Bluebells in the United States refer to a different flower. This shot, along with the next few, were captured on the shore of Lake Superior at Eagle Harbor. Harebells, make that bluebells, were a plot-driver in the second season of Broadchurch.

Here's a wildflower from both hemispheres, a beach pea. Note the rounded rocks. They are very common along the shore of Lake Superior. Rounded rocks are common on the shore of the largest of the Great Lakes. Basalt and rhyolite are very common there.

It wasn't until this spring that I found lupines in the wild. And just as with the obedient plant, it was in Illinois.

Here's a white variety of the musk mallow.

Thimbleberries are delicious--but they don't travel well so you have to go there they grow to eat them. Here are a couple of thimbleberry blooms taken at the end of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Copper Harbor.

While I saw many more self-heal plants in northern Wisconsin, this Copper Harbor specimen turned out better, photographically speaking. These short purple stalks thrive where humans are--roadsides, trail edges, ends of lawns, and even on shores of lakes were here is a lot of pleasure boating. I guessed when I first saw it that it was a member of the mint family--and I guessed correctly. That's how I got to be Blogger Laureate of Illinois. And as you can assume by its name, self-heal is used in herbal remedies.

It's been a little bit since we've had an invasive species--albeit this is one that may improve your mood. St. John's Wort is a popular herbal treatment for depression. It's a native of Eurasia but its range is worldwide now. In Europe it often blooms around St. John's Day--June 24--hence its name. If the herbs don't perk you up, perhaps its striking flowers will.

This orange and yellow beauty, a northern bush honeysuckle, is worth the 450 mile drive from Morton Grove, Illinois to Copper Harbor.

These downward looking blossoms belong to a pitcher plant, a carnivorous species that hasn't seemed to make a dent into the Upper Peninsula's mosquito population.

Harebells at sunrise on Lake Superior. Do you see the lichens? They are the sunburst variety. Sunburst at sunrise. Perhaps one day we'll move to the Keweenaw Peninsula.

I just love this pink-purple wildflower, the maiden pink. Yes, it's another Euro-invader, but check it out! A five peal blossom with a pentagon design. Wikipedia says that this flower is common near mines and there are plenty of abandoned mines on the Keweenaw. I discovered these in the ghost town of Delaware.

Moving right along...

These are wild blueberries--very tasty ones, I can attest--growing in the Hiawatha National Forest.

Spotted knapweed, another European alien, is an attractive flower, especially when it dominates fields, heather-like. But it hogs water and nutrients, choking out competing plants. This photo, as with the next two, comes from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

From one purple invader to another--purple loosestrife.

And we end with a native flower, the common evening primrose. It's a difficult species to photograph because this yellow wildflower bloom open fully from the evening until the morning.

UPDATE November 2:

I identified one more flower, and like the other species from the Quincy Mine, this Euroasian invader is one that I also spotted in Detroit--bird vetch, also known as cow vetch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for the photos and comments.