Road Trip: Upper Michigan, Part 1

Pink Lady's Slipper
Cypripedium acaule
We just finished a road trip from Minneapolis to central Ontario through Upper Michigan. Passing by three Great Lakes and amazing wilderness, I will highlight some of the native plants we encountered.

We drove along the north edge of Lake Michigan then headed north through the middle of the Upper Peninsula half way between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

Stopping at a National Forest Recreation Facility, we found Pink Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) growing amongst the carpets of Low-Bush Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium).

Low-Bush Blueberries

This area has very sandy soil, with sugar maples, red and white pines, pin cherries, paper birch and serviceberries. The forest floor is covered with the Low-Bush Blueberries.

Low-Bush Blueberry Flower

The beautiful white bell-shaped flowers of Low-Bush Blueberries that will turn into the delicious blue fruit.
An inland lake at the Recreation Facility where loons were fishing.

Along the sandy shore some nice surprises.

Lance Leaved Violet
Viola lanceolata

The white flowers of this Lance-Leaved (Bog) Violet (Viola lanceolata) dotted the sandy shore.

Round Leaved Sundew
Drosera rotundifolia
The pink hairs on the Round-Leaved Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) also stood out.

These are amazing insectivorous plants that snare their insect prey on the sticky excretion from the glandular hairs on the leaves. "When an insect lands on one hair, the other hairs sense it and bend over the insect, making it adhere to their sticky fluid. The hair glands then release and acid and enzymes that dissolve all the soft parts of the insect, and other leaf glands absorb the released nutrients." (Forest Plants of Central Ontario, Chambers, Legasy & Bentley)

Reindeer Lichen dotted the ground in the forest openings forming large patches.

Gaultheria procumbens

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) was also abundant in the sandy soils around the pine trees. The new red growth was emerging. The leathery leaf is very fragrant when crushed. The flowers emerge in July and are similar to the Low-Bush Blueberry.

Sweet Fern
Comptonia peregrina

Along the margins of the woodlands in full sun were clusters of Sweet-Fern (Comptonia peregrina). Another plant with a fragrance, the new growth when crushed has a sweet fragrance.

This woody shrub resembles a fern with its long narrow lobed leaves. A great native shrub for dry sandy soils in full sun.

We have Sweet-Fern in our yard along a rock retaining wall in sandy soil where it's doing really well.

Sandy shoreline of the north end of Lake Michigan.