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

Summer Solstice – Nature’s Way

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The summer solstice officially arrives in Oakland County today, June 21st at 11:54 a.m. EST. This annual astronomical phenomenon heralds the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and conversely, brings the shortest night. The longest day of the year, and all the days of summer that follow, are ideal for exploring the ways of nature in the wilds, and the not so wilds of Oakland County. The Farmer’s Almanac may be a great resource to follow seasonal changes and weather predictions, but just a simple walk in the woods and on the trails of Oakland County will confirm that summer is really here, and so today, I share some of my favorite natural confirmations of summer. Continue reading

Who’s Doing the Tall Bloomin’ of June?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the month of May faded, frisky fawns frolicking in meadows drew attention away from emerging spring wildflowers. But by the middle of June, the fawns will retreat into the protective shelter of woodlands where they will continue to learn the ways of the wild under the watchful eyes of the does. The meadows, woodlands edge and lakeshores are now ablaze with some of summer’s finest and tallest wildflowers, and by the time the heat of July takes hold, they will be at peak beauty. A half dozen of our tallest and most beautiful wildflowers of summer are now competing for center stage, and the fawns go unnoticed. Continue reading

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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