Oakland County Board Promotes Use of Native Plants in Home Gardens

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners, along with Oakland County Parks and Recreation (OCPR), recently passed out more than 90 native plant kits to residents looking to expand their home gardens with native plants. Although the curbside distribution event has passed, those interested in preventing invasive species can still do so with plants indigenous to the region.

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Yellow Goat’s Beard of Oakland County

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

In the sultry days of August, meadows, fields and un-mowed roadsides of rural sections of Oakland County present colorful potpourris of wildflowers of every size and shape. Many are native species, others are naturalized plants that crossed the oceans with early immigrants and now thrive in our midst. The flowers attract butterflies and insects of all sorts, as well as human admirers. Among the mix in Oakland County is Tragopogon dubius, a lesser known species with several common names including yellow goat’s beard and yellow salsify. It’s an attractive, but rather unremarkable yellow flower whose presence often goes unnoticed; however its three to four-inch globe-shaped seedhead is eye-catching and resembles a giant dandelion on steroids. And when the sunlight hits the seedhead just right, it’s stunning. Continue reading

Spring into Nature

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY 

Oakland County Parks are impressive on so many fronts. The year-round recreational opportunities are endless and provide tons of family fun. Yet, for the month of April, it’s the natural resources, abundant wildlife and incredible beauty that are at the top of my list. All of these things can be easy to find along the nearly 70 miles of trails that embrace the lakes, meadows, woodlands and glacially sculpted hills of the 13 Oakland County Parks. There are trails for every ability and age and even trails for equestrians. Some trails are hill-huggers, where those that dream of the Appalachian Trail can get leg muscles into shape. There are even paved looped trails that are perfect for a family walk with a baby stroller and grandparents. You’ll definitely want to consider April to be your month to reconnect with nature.

I’ll share a secret here: The quiet walker sees the most. Although wildlife is abundant, most species along the trails, except perhaps for squirrels, are people wary. If you walk quietly, early in the day, stop often and perhaps sit on a log and just listen, a world of wildlife unfolds. What might you see? How about Sandhill Cranes, Wild Turkey, Eastern Bluebirds, Canada Geese on nests or defending their territory, Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks soaring, Great Blue Heron and American Egrets fishing, Osprey diving for fish, Red-winged Blackbirds flashing their colors, migrating Vireos and Warblers. You may even catch a fleeting glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker.

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Secrets of the Late-Blooming Jeweled Beauty

Wilder Side of Oakland County

Spotted Jewelweed in bloom.

Some of the most amazing wildland plants of Oakland County go unnoticed along trails and pathways as we hurry about in the frenzy of late summer activity. One of these plants is a late-blooming beauty, a three to four foot tall delicate native wildflower of moist soils, sun-dappled stream banks, and wetland edges. This one holds an explosive secret! This is the story of the Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens Capensis), a wildflower with a much loved, yet misleading,  nickname “Touch-me-not.”

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POISON IVY: Fight the Itch with Wildwoods Wisdom

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Poison Ivy in full sunlight takes on a bushy form

A walk through shady woods or a sun-soaked meadow is the perfect way to embrace the wonders of summer. It’s healthful, relaxing and has endless rewards, some for the eyes and some for the taste buds. Juicy black raspberries are ripe, blackberries are almost ready and in hidden pockets of more northern landscapes, blueberries please the palate. Yet, hidden in plain sight for those that are not in the know is Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy. The summer of 2015 has produced a bumper crop of this plant of itching woe, a plant that triggers a painful itching, blistering and sometimes oozing reaction. This extreme reaction happens when Urushiol, the sap of the plant, makes even the slightest contact with the skin. Continue reading