Monday, August 29, 2011

August 28, 2011 A Ditch Full of Flowers Along the Pumpkinvine Trail

Bikers who ride The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail between Elkhart County Roads 28 and 33 may want to take time to "smell the flowers" where the trail goes from the fields into the wooded section, shown in the photo below.

Just to the right is a ditch that has a surprising variety of native wildflowers that thrive where the soil is moist most of the time.  There are brambles, as well as wildflowers, in the ditch, so you will need long pants if you explore the area.  Below are photos of what you may see blooming in only a 10 yard long walk in the ditch.
Orange Jewelweed and Great Blue Lobelia
Within a few weeks Jewelweed, AKA Touch-Me-Not, Impatiens capensis, flowers will morph into seed-pods that split open and eject their seeds when you touch them.  Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica, flowers are striking.  Like other Lobelias, their flowers have 3 petals pointing down and 2 pointing up, which you will see better if you click on the  photos to enlarge them.
Great Blue Lobelia
Cardinal Flower
Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is even more showy than Great Blue Lobelia; they both have similar flower structures.
Cardinal Flower and Orange Jewelweed
Boneset and Orange Jewelweed
Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, has opposite leaves that join together, completely surrounding the stem - "perfoliate" is the botanical term for leaves that surround the stem.  You may click on the photo to see the perfoliate leaves more clearly.

All of the native wildflowers pictured above are common throughout northern Indiana and southern Michigan, but because they grow in wetlands, which frequently are not easily accessible, you have to go out your way to see them.  It is worth the effort.

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