Michigan Holly or Winterberry

Holly

Holly, photo by Third Son

How like the holly in deep winter time
How like the star in the dark night shine
How like a path on the snow driven plain
How like the candle — how like the flame
How like the winter that promises spring
How like the carol we sing.
~Joel Mabus (How Like the Holly)

The Hope College Biology Nature Preserve has this to say about Michigan Holly (Ilex verticillata: Aquifoliaceae):

Michigan Holly is a medium sized shrub not normally growing taller than 12 feet and usually about 6 to 8 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. It has densely branched stems that grow into a round crown and flower in May and June with small yellow-white flowers. The fruits are highly distinguishable and grows in bright red clusters of small berries, forming in September and October and persisting into mid-winter. Michigan Holly (also known as Winterberry) is dioecious, so both male and female plants are needed for fruit production and only females bear fruits.

Michigan Holly is found throughout Eastern and Central North America, but does not grow well in the West, Southwest, or Lower Midwest because of dry winds and heat. It is found naturally in wetlands and will tolerate standing water or swamps, however, it prefers to grow in well-drained, acidic, damp, loamy or sandy soils and full or partial sun.

Click through for photos and a little more information.

View Third Son’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Early Winter 2015 slideshow.

More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures. Also, definitely check out Michigan sonwriter Joel Mabus’s CD How Like the Holly – one of my favorite holiday albums ever!

December 1st … Back into the Woods Day

Sit for a Spell

sit for a spell, photo by Doug Jonas

Longtime readers may know that I celebrate December 1st as “Back into the Woods Day” because for my money, the hardest 15 days for the year for the non-hunting lover of the outdoors in Michigan are November 15-30th. Enjoy as you will – orange clothing not required!

The photo was taken in Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Experimental Forest in Augusta, midway between Kalamazoo & Battle Creek:

Established on abandoned agricultural land, the 716-acre Kellogg Experimental Forest is known worldwide for research on tree breeding and genetics, planting techniques, and plantation establishment and management. Much of the research that developed the Spartan spruce, a hybrid that combines the color and drought resistance of a blue spruce and the softer needles and rapid growth rate of the white spruce, was done at the Kellogg Forest. The forest is open to the public for biking, hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing, and has several interpretive trails.

Click for visitor information and there’s also some videos of what researchers are up to that show some of this beautiful spot.

Doug says this was an enchanted afternoon in the woods, with sun, shadow, snow and reflected sky. View his photo background bigilicious and click for more of his great Michigan photos.

More winter wallpaper and lots more parks & trails on Michigan in Pictures!

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, photo by Rick Corriveau

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.
~Henry David Thoreau

I hope you have much to be thankful for, today and every day, within and without. I am thankful for all of you who give me reason to keep doing something that I dearly love – sharing photos of this beautiful and diverse place. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!

Also sorry folks – had this scheduled for first thing this morning I thought!!

Rick says he’ll take one drumstick please! View his photo bigger and see more in his Birds slideshow.

Make Mine a Michigan Thanksgiving: High Bush Cranberry Edition

Highbush Cranberries by Blondieyooper

Cranberries, photo by Blondieyooper

One thing that I love is Thanksgiving dinner, and another is Michigan grown food. Dianna at Promote Michigan brings those together with 15 things that make Thanksgiving Pure Michigan. From starters like Koeze nuts, McClure’s Pickles, Koegel Meats, and Leelanau Cheese to sides like Michigan potatoes & squash to Michigan-raised turkeys and (of course) pumpkin & apple pie and ice cream!

One Thanksgiving staple that Michigan is producing more of are cranberries, and you can get all kinds of information from the US Cranberry Marketing Committee. While it’s too late to get them this year, we have another cranberry that grows in Michigan you might not be aware of. Green Deane’s Eat the Weeds is a great blog, and his page on the High Bush Cranberry says (in part):

The High Bush Cranberry is actually a Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) and a cousin of the elderberry. Both are in the greater Honeysuckle Family and have a characteristic musky odor. That family by the way straddles the edibility line, with some members edible and others not, some tasty and some not. As one might suspect by the name, the High Bush Cranberry has tart fruit. Bradford Angier, a well-known Canada-based forager along side Euell Gibbons, wrote they require a “conditioned palate” to appreciate.

In North America the High Bush Cranberry is found in Canada and the northern half of the United States plus, oddly, New Mexico. It is not as that friendly to wildlife as one might suspect. The fruit persists into the winter because they are not on the top of birds’ preferred food. Birds like the berries after they soften and ferment. White-Tailed deer also browse on the twigs and leaves. For humans the berries are high in Vitamin C, about 30 milligrams per 100 grams.

Viburnum trilobum has several disputed botanical names and several mistaken common names including Pimbina, Mooseberry, Cranberry Tree, Cranberry Bush, American Cranberry, and Squashberry.

Read on for lots more including identification tips. There’s much more Michigan Thanksgiving to feast on at Michigan in Pictures too!

Blondieyooper says she picked over 8 pounds of these gorgeous highbush cranberries in the UP back in October of 2011. View her photo background bigilicious and see more in her Fall 2011 slideshow.

Freedom lies in being bold

Renaissance Center Fireworks

freedom festival | detroit, michigan, photo by Ryan Southen

“Freedom lies in being bold.”
~Robert Frost

Hope your Fourth of July is as big, bold & amazing as this great shot of the Detroit fireworks over the Renaissance Center from Lafayette Park.

View Ryan’s photo biggerpurchase it and others and definitely follow him on Facebook!

Today in Spoiler Alerts: July 3, 1776

MEG_0653

Untitled, photo by Marvin Graves

I hope everyone has a great Independence Day weekend … though I suspect the Redcoats won’t.

View Marvin’s photo bigger and see more in his really great Fort Michilimackinac 2009 slideshow.

PS: If you ever get a chance to visit Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, I heartily recommend it. Definitely one of Michigan’s coolest museums!

PPS: Love the Bridge peeking up just to the right of the flagpole.

 

Don’t Forget Why You Have Today Off Work

Don't Forget Why You Have Today Off Work.

“Don’t Forget Why You Have Today Off Work, photo by J.M.Barclay

Indeed. Enjoy your extra weekend day but take some time to remember the incredible sacrifices that have been made for our nation.

View J.M.’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.