Saturday, June 13, 2009

Boreal Highlights

I had the opportunity to spend the last week in Superior, Wisconsin, working on a boreal forest and black spruce-tamarack swamp restoration with Andrew Blackburn, Josh Brown, Nick Gressick, Nicole Kalkbrenner, and Gary Walton. This is the same site at which we last year found the first state record for Wisconsin of Canadanthus modestus (click here to see my post on that find). Below are some highlights from our visit last week.

This is Viola novae-angliae, a species of boreal forests in Wisconsin that is also known from Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Gary mentioned that it used to be state-listed in Wisconsin; it is common at this site.

Vicia americana is a plant found in a variety of upland habitats in Wisconsin. It is also known from much of North America.

I saw Maianthemum trifolium (=Smilacina trifolia) for the first time ever on this trip. We first saw it in a roadside bog near Wascott, Wisconsin. At our site, it was growing in Sphagnum spp. within the black spruce-tamarack restoration area. It is known from all provinces in Canada, as well as from New England and a handful of northern states in the United States.

Rubus pubescens is an herbaceous, thornless raspberry species of bogs, conifer swamps, boreal forests, lowland forests, sedge meadows, and pine barrens. It is found in nearly every county in Wisconsin, as well as throughout most of Canada and the northern United States.

This is the beautiful sedge Eriophorum angustifolium. This cotton grass is known from the northern half of North America, as well as from a few southwestern states. It grows in a variety of wet habitats.

You may have seen my recent post on this species, Castilleja coccinea. At this site in Superior, Andrew and I found just a single Indian Paintbrush plant. In Wisconsin, this species is found in boreal forests, lowland forests, prairies, and on sand dunes.

We saw numerous sedges on the site, but one of my favorites has to be Carex castanea. Chestnut Sedge, as it is known, is only found in a few northern counties in Wisconsin. It can be found throughout northeastern North America in cedar swamps, mesic conifer-hardwood forests, conifer forests, and mesic meadows.

Corydalis sempervirens is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada, as well as in Alaska and Montana. It is endangered here in Indiana and is rare in the Chicago Region; this was the first time I've ever seen this species. Rock Harlequin is found in sandy soil following a disturbance (fire, scraping, etc.), and it doesn't persist long in the absence of disturbance. In Wisconsin, it is found on cliffs and in savannas. We found it on the site in a burned area.

Last year at the site, we saw Corallorhiza maculata; this year, Gary and Nick found Corallorhiza trifida, a new one for me. In Wisconsin, this species is found in boreal, upland, and lowland forests. Its North American range is generally the northern two-thirds of the continent.


Justin said...

Great post, Scott! I love seeing plants I've never heard of in places that aren't really that far away. It makes me want to travel. Canada, anyone?

Scott said...

A trip to the UP, or Superior, WI, should be in order in the next few years. I've been told that late June/early July would be the best time to visit.

Brad said...

Scott, great to see you sampled another slice of the North Country. I just returned from a partial week in Marquette, and was brutalized by black flies, mosquitoes, and deer flies, and bothered by ticks (12-15; all but one were wood ticks, the other was a black-legged tick). I saw several new species for me on rock outcrops and boulders west of Marquette. Isn't Carex castanea cool? I first observed that plan on an old beach ridge in the eastern UP.

Brad said...

Also, on timing, the UP is best early-late June, depending on the weather. However, after this week, I realize camping would range from unpleasant to unbearable, given the clouds of biting insects that infest the region in May and June. 45 minutes in the famed Summerby Swamp yesterday resulted in hundreds of black fly bites, leaving me bleeding from the corner of my left eye, corner of my mouth, neck, and both ears. That and the swelling gave the impression of a barroom brawl. We should start thinking about a trip next year- Ariel and I may try to take another trip to Europe next year, so I would have to plan for my vacation time (and $) accordingly.

Scott said...

Brad - Sorry to hear about the insects and ticks. The insects didn't seem that bad in Superior, but the ticks were probably comparable. One of my coworkers had 10 or so each day we were there. The day after I found a deer tick crawling on me, I saw on the news out of Duluth that Lyme disease was on the rise in that area. Comforting. I'm looking forward to seeing your photos from Marquette! Yes, Carex castanea is a cool sedge... one of my favorites seen on this trip, up there with Carex deflexa and Carex houghtoniana.

Nick said...

Funny thing that this is my first comment on here and a long time since the last post. Anyway, Summersby Swamp is a great place in the eastern U.P. for seeing a variety of plant species. I know a number of great sites in Marquette County to see many boreal species. We should all head to Isle Royale National Park though.

Scott Namestnik said...

Let me know when you want to go and I'll see what I can do.