Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall Wildflower Tour in the Eastern Upper Peninsula

Print Friendly and PDF I am always on the watch for wildflowers, and when I find a patch of something rare or unusual, it is a good day! We started off down the road to Kenneth, MI., about a 15 minute drive from Birch Lodge, to check on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) at the Michigan Nature Association's Fred Dye Sanctuary. This open field was once an area where the railroad would bring hay in from the prairies to feed the horses used by the loggers in the late 1800's. I believe the seeds for these plants came in with the hay, and managed to maintain a population to the present day.

Purple Coneflower
Purple Coneflowers at Fred Dye Sanctuary
Although mid-August was late in the season, we found a few plants still in bloom, and plump seed heads bouncing in the wind.An additional surprise were the Ladies-Tress Orchids (Spiranthese cernua) blooming on the edge of the field.

Ladies-Tress Orchids
Ladies-Tress Orchids
This made me think of another location I know a few miles away, and we set off to see what might be blooming there....

Fringed Gentian and Grass of Parnassus
Fringed Gentian and Grass-of-Parnassus
The soils are limey and shallow, and not only did we find lots of orchids, but we found Fringed Gentian (Gentiana procera) blooming with the much more common Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia glauca) as well!
Not quite as rare a find here, but still interesting was the wild Clematis (Clematis virginiana) making a show of it's own in the trees along one side of the two-track trail. It's bloom was gone, but the feathery seeds were hard too miss

I will re-check these areas in the spring, I remember Blue-eyed Grass, and Yellow Lady's Slipper Orchids--check for a wildflower posting in the spring!

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