North Star: The Magazine of the North Country Trail
April - June 2001
pring reawaken» not only the hiker, tired of snow sboe» and the Jiwh of late Winter, but Nature's paintbrush, the wi&jlnwerJ that bloom the length of the north country and empbasiae why we call our trail the North Country National SCENIC Trail It'.:! a time when heavy trail work beqin», when score» of volunteers head into the woodJ to clear the detritw of heavy weather, to remark the myJterwwly duappearing blaee« and to locate tbose ilfwille connections between our [avoru« treadwayJ. But Spring if also the time to look down to Jee the unfo&ing glory. The foL!owing wiLL help guiJe you.
- The E'iJitor.
Our Members Point to Nature's Paintbrush By Lisa Messerer Finger Lakes Trail Conference
Spring, according to my plant taxonomy professor, lasts until early June in the northland. I have taken to dividing the spring wildflowers 'into two, loosely defined groups: early spring (April-May) and late spring/early summer (Mayearly June). Examples of early spring wildflowers are: bloodroot (.:1anguinaria canaderuis), hepatica (bepatica amencana); jack-in-the-pulpit (arisaema triphyllum); marsh marigold (caltba palastru), spring beauty (claytonia caroliniana); trailing arbutus (epiqaea repene); wood anemone (anemone quiquefolia); violets (Viola sp.}; nodding trillium (trillium. cernuum}; sweet coltsfoot (peta.:1ite.:1) and toothwort (<)entaria laciniata). Examples of Late spring/Early summer wildflowers are more numerous in the North Country. Some of my favorites are: wild leeks (allium tricoccum) - you will actually see the leaves of this plant, as it does not flower until July when the leaves have withered away; bellwort (uoalaria sp.); canada mayflower or wild-lilyof-the-valley (maianthemum canadense); clematis or virgin's bower (clematis virginiana); clintonia (clintonia borealis), dutchman's breeches (<)icentra cucullaria); wild ginger (asarum canadenee), bane berry (actaea sp.); columbine (aquilegia canadensi»); coralroot (corallorbua sp.) - this orchid is a true saprophyte, getting its nourishment from decaying organic matter, not through photosynthesis; Page 8
starflower (trientali:J borealis) and mertensia (mertensia paniculata). Early spring wildflowers are also known as "spring ephemerals." They have several traits in common: most bloom before trees have leafed out, ensuring that they receive plenty of sunshine; many close at night or on cloudy days (ex: hepatica, spring beauty, bloodroot); and many live in a colony, the individuals all being part of the same plant. The late spring/early summer flowers have a greater tolerance for the dappled sunlight found in forests as the trees leaf out. There can be quite an overlap of these groups depending on the conditions. Following the hard winter and delayed spring of 1995/96, when there was still two feet of snow on the trail in early May, many of the spring wildflowers were just beginning to bloom in late May and early June. In contrast, the last couple years have brought spring to the north shore earlier, with a concurrent early blooming cycle. Remember, when you venture out, to bring along a wildflower field guide or two (I am known to carry three or four) to help you identify your finds. I recommend Peter.:1on'.J Fie[() Guide to WilJ/lower.:1 or Newcomb s WilJ/lower Guide, as they cover a wide variety of plants, include when you can expect to find them in bloom, and have good drawings.
Minnesota So, where can you go to find these flowers? Beginning on the southern part of the Superior Hiking Trail and working north, I would recommend these sections: Knife River to Lake Co. Rd 102 (toothwort): Castle Danger to Gooseberry Falls State Park; Split Rock River (loop or to Gooseberry); Split rock to Beaver Bay (a sharp-eyed hiker found ladyslipper on this section in early June); Silver Bay to Tettegouche State Park (dutchrnan's breeches are a highlight); Cook Co. Rd 1 to Temperance River State Park; Britton Peak to Oberg Mountain and Lutsen to Caribou Trail (spring beauty). These sections include a variety of terrain and lengths, something to suit everyone from families looking for a fun day hike to folks looking to cover some miles.
Wisconsin Brule-St. Croix Chapter The portage trail section along the segment of the North Country Trail maintained by the Brule-St. Croix chapter is an excellent place to see spring flowers. Small flowers such as polygala and wood violet are particularly common in May and early June. The trail overlooks the Brule Bog, the only boreal forest in Wisconsin with bog laurel, bunch berry and Labrador tea blossoms. The Portage Trail is the North Country Trail segment running north from the St. Croix Lake trailhead, off Douglas County Highway A four miles northeast of Solon Springs.
Published on Nov 6, 2014