Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 29, 2011 Fen Flowers at Crooked Lake Nature Preserve

You are not alone if you don't anything about fens --- there aren't many of them left within 60 miles of Goshen.  Fens are mineral-rich wetlands, fed by calcareous groundwater seeps.  Fens tend to be alkaline, in contrast to bogs, which tend to be acidic.  Fens and bogs have some plants in common, but each of the two wetlands has unique flora too.

Below are photos of native fen wildflowers now blooming at Crooked Lake Nature Preserve, approximately five miles southeast of Wolf Lake IN. (From US 33 in Wolf Lake, take SR 109 south to CR 500 S, then east to 250W and south to 600S.)
Nature Preserve paring lot, corner of Noble CR 250W & 600S
From the parking lot, take the trail south about 1/4 mile to Crooked Lake; then keep left (east) on the trail along the lake to a boardwalk that crosses the small fen, between a hill and the lake, pictured below.
Fen Thistle and Preying Mantis
The vegetation you see beyond the Fen Thistle, Cirsium muticum , includes sedges and a variety of wildflowers. This thistle is a native species that grows in wetlands; it is a completely different species than the invasive thistles that are common in fields and along roadsides.
Grass of Parnassus

Fen Grass of Parnassus; N. B. the basal leaves
Fen Grass of Parnassus, Parnassia glauca, flowers are on leafless stalks that bolt from a whorl of basal leaves; it is nothing like a grass.  The long,  thin, grass-like leaves throughout the photo are sedges, not Grass-of-Parnassus.  So far I have found P. glauca at only two places in Michiana; both are fens.
Rough-leaved Goldenrod
Ar first glance, the Rough-leaved Goldenrod may look like the any other goldenrod.  But notice the big, broad leaves at the bottom; they feel like sandpaper.  Rough-leaved Goldenrod grows in wetlands throughout Michiana.
Purple False-Foxglove and caterpillar
Purple False-Foxglove, Agalinis pupurea, grows in other wetlands too, not only in fens.
Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria
Purple Loosestrife is a noxious plant that has invaded many wetlands, including the Crooked Lake Fen.  It was introduced to North America from Eurasia and now crowds out our native wetland plants.  You are most welcome to pull up Purple Loosestrife whenever you see it; it is tenacious, so you will have to pull hard.

No comments:

Post a Comment