Walks full of wild flowers

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Russ Helwig | June 11, 2014

Last Tuesday, eight of us hiked around beautiful Lake LaGrange, going counterclockwise starting out on the horse trail and ending on the Ice Age Trail.

The corn was just coming up on the field by the east end of the hike.

We stopped at the bench overlooking the lake on the northwest side for a great view and admired the prairie which is becoming green with a variety of wildflowers which will be blooming later in the year.

At the south end of the lake there was a white egret sitting on a branch on the other side and a kingbird flying back and forth on our side. Various songs from other songbirds filled the air.

Marvin Herman writes:
On a rainy morning last Wednesday, with temperatures in the upper 50s, 11 long-walk hikers opted to travel to the Nordic trails seeking the less muddy trails offered there by the grassy paths. We hiked a combination of the green trail with a couple of blue trail loops for a total of 5.1 miles.

On the last mile of the trail, the group encountered a painted turtle mom laying eggs in light mud at the center of the trail. She measured about seven inches across her shell. We also saw a profusion of orange poppies on the green/orange trail about a quarter mile from the end on the left-hand side with most of the buds not yet bloomed.

Jake Gerlock led the short walk at the Nordic trails. Jake reported that they started out on the 3.7- mile white trail but with a light rain falling their feet were starting to get wet so they took a shortcut on the purple trail for a very short 1.7 miles.

My flower walk also took this route to get a little extra distance before our flower hikes. We started shortly after Jake's group but we did not get our feet wet. We probably had better footwear and also the rain had nearly quit by the time we started.

June 4 Flower walk:

After our hike on the Nordic Trails we visited a couple state natural areas.

Manfred Angerman sent me the following about our first stop to look for wildflowers:

This was a good day. We saw more wildflowers in one field than I have ever seen grouped together. Some of these were new to me, a "first" on my discovery page. In my following comments I need to emphasize that I am not writing from my personal experience but am referring from "The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers".

White ladyslipper and yellow ladyslipper: Cypripedium candidum and Cypripedium calceolus.  There is a small yellow identified as a distinct specie called Cypripedium parviflorum. We found dozens of these most beautiful wildflowers today. You can tell I am in awe of this location. If we found nothing else this day would have been a total success.

However, the story continues.
Hawkweed Hieracium pretense: There are several hawkweeds. We probably saw yellow hawkweed, not mouse-ear or large mouse-ear. All are introductions from Europe and spread easily.

Wood betony Pedicularis Canadensis: I totally mistook this plant for kittens' tails. What can I have been thinking? Never the less it did look familiar.A fascinating find, probably our most intriguing find of the day.

Prairie false indigo  Baptisia leucantha: This plant can also be called white wild indigo because its flowers are white or cream, not yellow as are wild indigo. This is a beautiful plant almost a small shrub. It would be a great addition to any wild garden. The problem is it is adapted to a wet sunny prairie which would be difficult to reproduce in your garden.

Swamp saxifrage  Saxifraga pensylvanica: Most people are contemptuous of this uninteresting wild flower. After all it doesn't have much of a colorful flower, does it? But I find it stands strong and tall doesn't mind a little competition. I like it.

Pointed blue-eyed grass  Sisyrinchium augustifolium: A nothing wisp of grass until it blooms.  And then wow, a beauty. The smallest iris. There is another blue-eyed grass called common. I don't know which one we saw. It would take much closer study.

Golden Alexander  Zizia aurea:  A pleasant yellow flowered long stemmed plant.  Another specie among many in a prairie.

We saw many other wild flowers we have seen many times before. Yawn!  Shooting star, prairie smoke, birdsfoot violet, What? Birdsfoot violet. What was a birdsfoot violet doing among this mass of swamp dwellers? Slumming I'm sure.

So with satisfied high heart and wet feet we went to lunch.

After lunch I, along with Lynn Larson, put on our high boots and some DEET to hike at the Bluff Creed State Natural Area. The wet prairie here also has a great variety of wildflowers in a slightly different mix than that found before lunch. The vegetation is taller here and a large amount of prairie rose was in bloom. We found white ladyslipper but no yellow. One boggy area had cotton grass blooming, although it was wet from the recent rain.

Happy Trekking,


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