Wildflowers on the RailTrail

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Another transition period

06 June

Well, we had lovely walks on the 5th from Averill Rollway to near the M30 bridge and today from Duck Hunters to Tittabawassee.

The Golden Alexanders are doing well in both places and give a nice yellow punctuation to the sudden overgrowth of green with the warm weather.  There is, of course, another yellow flower in much evidence.  Yellow Rocket or Common Wintercress has been abundant this spring.  Though introduced and colonizing, it is not the threat that Garlic Mustard is to the native plants.  The Wild Salsify or Yellow Goatsbeard is also starting to appear–looking like a lanky dandelion.

Along the walk to Salt River Bridge, the Wild Geranium is opening more and more and some of the Canada Anemone is budded–but not much blooming yet. Give it a day or two.  The Tall Meadow Rue is ready to bloom and you see the occasional Early Meadow Rue already in bloom.  The False Solomon Seal is in full bloom on the sunny side of the trail.  Where the power lines cross the trail, there is a lot of tall and lovely but invasive Dame’s Rocket–both purple and white.  A few Ox-eye Daisies (also introduced) are popping up in the sunny areas and the early Eastern Daisy Fleabane is starting to appear.  The bright orange-red and yellow of the Wild Columbine or Grannies Bonnets is a pleasant surprise in all the green.

Chickweed is blooming among the Wild Strawberries in the mowed verge and Common Stitchwort is blooming at the edge–both have tiny flowers with petals in 4 pairs, like someone reordered the design.  Common Yarrow is rising above the fray. The Creeping Cinquefoil is there as well.  Common Cinquefoil is beginning to bloom among the taller plants at the edge. The yellow Hop Clover (Black Medic)  is blooming in the worst dry areas and Red and White Clover are beginning to make themselves apparent.

Some of the Swamp Buttercup can be seen in among the leaves that will soon yield Blue Flag Iris.  I did see 3 Blue Flag along the trail from Duck Hunters.  The rest will follow soon, then riding your bike from Dublin to the bridge will let you experience a sea of blue in the ditches.  Both Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed are getting taller and will be blooming soon.

Large swathes of Royal Fern, Ostrich Fern, Sensitive Fern, Cinnamon Fern and Lady Fern are also growing well in the wet ditches.  The ubiquitous Bracken Fern is coexisting with them all.

The tiny Canada May-flower is blooming wherever it can and the last of the Gay Wings or Fringed Polygala is hiding once again among the Wintergreen.  There are still a few Mocassin Flowers (Pink Lady Slipper Orchid) at the edge of the pond area as well. Some blue European Columbine is blooming on the walk to the overlook.  I was surprised to not see more Wood Anemone or Thimbleweed Anemone blooming.  We will be watching for these beauties.

As to the shrubs, they are really in show.  The Brambles (Blackberry and Raspberry) are blooming and growing rapidly.  Grapes have the tiny yellow balls that are their flowers.  Black Haw, Witherod, Nannyberry and Cranberry Viburnum are blooming all along the trail.  Maple-leaf Viburnum is blooming in shady areas.  Alternate Leaf and Red Osier Dogwood are also blooming alongside the exuberant Ninebark.  Pin Cherry trees are making berries, Apples and Crabapples are setting fruit and the Black Cherries are still blooming like crazy.

The showiest flowering is from the invasive Autumn Olive and Buckthorn as well as all of the invasive Honeysuckle, because there are so many in these trail areas and they make so many flowers.  Also, all alongside the Averill Preserve is a large presence of the newly discovered invasive European Spindle Tree (a Euonymous).  Oh, for a group of folks to work with the County to mark and remove these invasives!  Little Forks Conservancy  and Chippewa Nature Center are working on their properties to remove these, but the seed bank just from along the Rail Trail is overwhelming.  Please learn to identify these and remove them from your properties, along with the Garlic Mustard scourge.  I spent 3 days with a neighbor removing Garlic Mustard from the City of Midland property beside our houses this week.  The reward is renewal of the native wildflowers in previously barren (except for the invasives) areas.

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