Spring Wildflower Walk at Brewer Woods

 

Under the auspices of the Southwest Chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club, I will lead a field trip at the Michigan Nature Association’s Brewer Woods Sanctuary on Saturday 2 May 2015. It begins at 10:00 AM at the woods, located in Pavilion Township.

The 41-acre preserve is mostly beech-maple forest, or southern mesic forest. On the west edge it grades into slightly wetter forest, including some vernal pools. It has a remarkably rich display of spring-flowering herbs. I’ve written about in often in posts of earlier years.

Here are the directions for getting there, as provided by the Botanical Club:

Please  car pool at the I-94, Oakland Drive Park-and-Ride, and to leave there no later than 9:15 A. M. From there drive East on I-94 and exit South on Portage Road. Turn left ( East ) on Bishop Road. Drive East about 3.9 miles ( thru Sprinkle road, continue East, then Southeast, then East again) Bishop road becomes East P-Avenue, then East P.Q.-Avenue). At the T-intersection with 29th Street, turn Right ( South), about 1.5 miles to East R-Avenue. Turn Left ( East) about 0.7 miles to 8297 East R-Avenue ( the entrance to Brewers Woods preserve). At the driveway turn left ( North) about 1/4 mile to the house and garage. Someone will be there to guide you as to where to park.

I would only add that car-pooling is essential. Space for parking within the sanctuary is very limited, and no parking is available on the driveway or on the street (R Ave.).

Early May should be a good date for a spring wildflower walk this year. The season so far is quite late. A friend and I visited Harris Sanctuary just about a week ago (6 April) and in a quick walk around found almost nothing above ground as yet.

We did see the leaf tips of a couple of wild garlic clumps and a very few just-emerging plants of toothwort, Dentaria laciniata (which, as my friend noted, is now given the name Cardamine concatenata). We also saw a few widely scattered,very small plants of cleavers, Galium aparine.

So it’s a late season, presumably related to the cold and snow-covered  February and March.

We do have bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, in bloom here in Oshtemo Township as of today (12 April) The bloodroots were transplanted; they are growing well enough here among the oaks but probably were rare or non-existent in this habitat in pre-settlement times.

There is a patch or two of bloodroot at our field trip destination in Pavilion Township, but they were transplanted there too. However, their source was Myrtle Powers’ place just north of Scotts, only a few miles to the east of Brewer Woods. Myrtle was in the Biology Department at Western Michigan University when I arrived.

Katy pointed out the bloodroot flowers to me and mentioned that she had seen leaves of hepatica above ground–no flowers. But, spring is coming. and by May 2 there may be a good representation of early, middle, and late spring flowers.

The bloodroots in Pavilion probably won’t still be in bloom. The flowering period of bloodroot is very short. But the single leaf each plant has will still be there, as will fruiting stalks with the capsules that are a good indication of bloodroot’s membership in the poppy family.

Today (13 April) around noon I noticed that the bloodroot flowers were still closed from their usual night-time closure. It’s a cloudy, dark, rainy day.

The night-time closing behavior of plants has the technical name nyctinasty. Just so you know.

Another sign of spring, the shadbush in our yard (Amelanchier) as of this morning has swollen flower buds.

Two last notes on the bloodroot. The sun came out and by late afternoon, the flowers were fully open, but by the time I got back from a meeting, around 7:30 PM, with the sun still shining but low in the sky, the flowers were nearly closed again.

See you at Brewer Woods Saturday, May 2.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 17, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    What? Not even garlic mustard?