Ephemeral Wildflowers of Tenhave Woods

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

They emerged right on schedule in the small window of time that starts soon after wild turkeys began to gobble, but will end before trees leaf out, creating patterns of dappled sunlight on the forest floor. For that’s the way it is for ephemeral wildflowers that add spectacular beauty to the woodlands of Oakland County. This year I did not miss the spectacular and still ongoing southern Oakland County show.

Signs of spring creep slowly but steadily from the southern end of our county to the ever so slightly colder and higher elevation of the more heavily wooded northern hills of Oakland County. With that in mind, last Saturday I headed to Tenhave Woods in the highly developed “flatlands” of the City of Royal Oak in the southern part of our county to greet the wildflowers of early spring that thrive in our midst. The word ephemeral, meaning transient, fleeting, or short-lived is almost always used when describing early spring woodland wildflowers. Their delicate blossoms don’t last long, but their appearance signifies that spring is firmly entrenched. Continue reading

Michigan’s Most Endangered Species

Poweshiek Skipperling

Wilder Side of Oakland County

Beautiful and Rare, Springfield Township discusses an endangered butterfly, pictured above by CMU Research Assistant Michael Belitz.

“Springfield Township’s Shiawassee Basin Preserve, known for protecting one of the highest quality prairie fen wetlands in Michigan, is also one of the last places on earth to sustain a critically endangered butterfly known as the Poweshiek Skipperling. The Poweshiek Skipperling is a small (<1.25” wingspan) butterfly that depends on high quality prairie habitats like our fen for its survival. Until recently, the Poweshiek was one of the most common prairie butterflies in North America, being found in many states and provinces from the Great Plains region to the Midwest, but around 2005 the population began a mysterious decline in abundance. Today, there are less than five hundred individuals occurring in only a handful of locations across their former range.”

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MAY’S WOODLAND WILDFLOWERS MAKE WAY FOR JUNE

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Spring wildflowers of Oakland County woodlands capture our hearts, stir memories and draw the attention of woodland hikers, nature lovers and sometimes white-tailed deer. The flowers of May are short-lived flowers, and must emerge from the moist soil, grow rapidly, flower and produce seeds before the abundant oaks that named our county Oakland County leaf out and block the sun from the forest floor. The days of muted, dappled light seemingly dancing on the forest floor are rapidly fading. Shade will soon dominate and end the show of the ephemeral flowers. Now is the time to go for a woodland wildflower hike on the wilder side of Oakland County while their blooms remain; and there may even be a bonus, late-emerging morel mushrooms.

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Spring Beauty of the Woodlands: Round-lobed Hepatica

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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My love affair with a delicate spring wildflower, the round-lobed hepatica, transports memories back to my nature-embracing, hill-trekking, wide-eyed freshman days at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. The farm fields, meadows and wooded hillsides of the Green Mountain State became my nature discovery center. Seasons in Vermont progressed rapidly. Winter melted into maple sugar and mud season, and the amazing ephemeral wildflower season then followed. I quickly discovered hepatica my first spring in Vermont. Hepatica was a wild and free flower, so unlike what I knew from my suburban home, with closely cropped grass and flowers planted in neat rows. In Vermont, hepatica was called liverleaf, and it was this wildflower, that is now approaching peak bloom in the dappled sunlight of the oak woods on the Wilder Side of Oakland County, that helped set me on the path I still follow. Continue reading