Monday, June 9, 2014

One rare and a few not so rare

Sunday morning, I went, with my friend Elizabeth, to a conservation area, about 10 minutes from here, to see the annual display of a very rare daisy. Its common name is lakeside daisy (Tetraneuris herbacea) as it is found only in a few small colonies around the Great Lakes in Ontario, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. It grows on a very thin layer of soil, directly on the alvar (limestone plain). Here is what it looks like.

Lakeside Daisy

You can see below how little soil it needs to grow. You just have a small deposits of leaf litter on the limestone where plants congregate. The limestone is just like a concrete floor. There is a walkway with a viewing station to protect the plants.

Habitat of Tetraneuris herbacea
Habitat of the lakeside daisy

On the same outing, we saw fringe polygana (Polygala paucifolia), also in bloom just now. It grows in shade, under trees (while the lakeside daisies grows in full sun).

Fringe Polygana
The star flower (Trientalis borealis) is very small and delicate. It also grows on the shady forest floor.

Star Flower

While the lakeside daisy is very rare, False Solomon Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) grows in all the states and all the provinces of North America. Growing through it is a large yellow lady slipper (Cypripedium pubescens). Both were growing on the highway embankment. The large yellow lady slipper is actually common around here.

False Solomon Seal & Lady Slipper
Large Yellow Lady Slipper

However the small lady slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) is rarely seen. The one below actually grows in the garden.

Small Yellow Lady Slipper

The following two natives were not growing on the forest floor but in full sun in a field - wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and  common blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium montanum).

Wild Strawberry and Blue Eye Grass

The last one, also growing in full sun, in the road embankment gravel, I was not able to identify. Perhaps some of you will know it (you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it).


  1. Alain, I've been there several times, usually with the students I used to bring up to Cabot Head for a file trip. We actually helped build part of the boardwalk one year. But on Manitoulin, at Misery Bay, there is almost a carpet of lakeside Daisy across the limestone. I negotiated the very significant donation of Misery Bay as a provincial Nature Reserve Park forty years ago now! An amazing place if you ever get to visit there, acres and acres of alvar.

  2. The Lakeside daisy looks a lot like coreopsis to me. You're so lucky to see the lady slippers, I have never seen one.

  3. The plants are really resilient aren't they?

    1. You are right. You would never believe that a plant could prosper in so little soil!

  4. I have a large file of pictures of weed flowers, especially the little brave ones coming up through gravel and broken asphalt. Little wonders.

  5. What a nice spot, and such interesting plants. Could the last one be field pennycress maybe? Thlaspi arvense.

    1. I looked at it on the net and it might very well be it.

  6. Nice post full of very interesting plants. I love the Fringe polygana, reminds me a bit of phlox subulata when looking at the leaves. Blue eyed grass is always a charmer. I grow a different one from you, can't remember the name now.

    1. Actually the one on the picture grows wild in the Bruce. In wet meadows it is very common. I don't remember seeing it in Waterloo county though. I did buy one that blooms yellow last year but it has not yet bloomed (if it is still alive!).

  7. I had never heard of these before I read your post! SO pretty!


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