On Saturday, my friend Aunita treated me and my friend Pete to a little tour of Ann Arbor's Furstenberg Nature Area. Aunita has been the steward of a native plant demonstration garden there for many years, which is in fact how I met her some 6 years ago! (I met Pete back in college some 26 years ago, but I'm not admitting that or it would make us seem old.)
Furstenberg spans 37 acres, runs along the Huron River, and has fairly varied plant communities including wetland, woodland, prairie, and oak savannah. All of the plants I'm going to show are native to Michigan, so let's get started.
I just love buds! Here are really cute, dainty buds of gayfeather (Liatris aspera) and...
...big burly buds of prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum; say that three times fast!) — it has huge basal leaves and the yellow flowers grow at the tip of branches well over six feet tall. Yet, I'd never seen its buds. I love this photo, with grey-headed coneflower in the background. Click to see prairie dock in bloom.
...and the multiple, elegant rows of buds on Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)...
...and the spherical pale green buds of stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida)...
... which are closer to blooming on another plant in another location...
Leaving buds now but sticking with goldenrods, the aptly-named early goldenrod (Solidago juncea) is actually in bloom! The stem of early goldenrod feels a bit waxy whereas the stem and leaves of Canada goldenrod feel a bit more fuzzy.
I liked how this milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) had both blooms and seed pods on one plant — it had grown a second stem in response to being grazed by deer.
Isn't this flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata) really cute? Noogie!
I'm showing this past-bloom beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) as it's the native parent plant of the cultivar 'Husker red.'
This cutie is false foxglove (Aureolaria spp., possibly grandiflora but I'm not certain). This plant is parasitic on oak roots and is an indicator plant of a high-quality oak-savannah ecosystem. After the city did multiple controlled burns to get rid of invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle in this area, the native seeds buried in the soil (including those of this false foxglove) finally got enough light to bloom again.
This isn't the best photo of field thistle (Cirsium discolor), but it shows two important IDing characteristics for native thistle: the undersides of the leaves are pale gray and the leaves aren't as bristly as other thistles so it's actually possible to touch it without being pricked!
This pointed-leaf tick trefoil (Desmodium glutinosum) grows in woody areas. it was near a bench along the river.
This prairie tick trefoil (Desmodium canadense) lives in (you guessed it) drier prairie conditions.
I'm pretty sure this is Stachys palustris, but I wouldn't stake my life on it.
Ooh, my hand is starting to feel like a celebrity, appearing so often in this post. This is swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), which as its name suggests prefers wetter areas. The leaves are quite leathery and pale underneath.
I love the prairie grasses like this switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)...
...Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), which is in bloom now (look at the cute yellow stamens!)...
...and of course big blue stem (Andropogon gerardii). The grass leans more toward red this time of year, but the foliage is blueish green as it first emerges.
Big blue stem is also sometimes called turkey's foot because the seed heads sort of resemble that shape.
Well, I hope you enjoyed our little walk. Let's sit now and have some lemonade!