John got this shot of wild Iris along the banks of Shalda Creek in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Some of you know that my mother Jill suffered for years from the terrifying effects of Alzheimers disease, ultimately passing last winter. June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, and the Alzheimer’s Association encourages us to wear purple (and of course donate) to raise awareness about a disease that afflicts tens of millions of Americans.
June is also when you can see Michigan’s official State Wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris), in bloom:
The official wildflower of the Great Lakes State is right at home anywhere it can get its feet wet along the rocky coast of Northern Lake Huron, but those places are getting harder to come by.
This pint-sized perennial is known for its deep blue flowers that emerge mere inches above the ground for a fleeting few weeks in May and June—individual blossoms last just days. The rest of the time, its yellow-green leaves cling close to the ground, hiding in plain sight until springtime comes around again.
It’s a bit of a miracle this fragile flower exists at all: They grow in the thin, nutrient-poor soil that overlays limestone gravel and bedrock. The Northeast Michigan coast, rich with sand dunes and limestone deposits, creates the perfect habitat for the iris, found nowhere else outside the northern Great Lakes.
Along with a limited range that’s shrinking due to lakeshore development, the plant has been sought out by collectors who replant or sell it elsewhere. For these reasons, the dwarf lake iris was added in 1988 to the list of federally threatened species.
Coincidentally, Bradford took this photo at Beavertail Point Nature Sanctuary on the northern coast of Lake Huron eight years ago on June 2nd, 2014 so I guess it’s a #TBT to boot! See more in his Iridaceae (Iris Family) gallery on Flickr
Stay strong everyone!!!
The Michigan DNR relates that Michigan’s state wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris): grows nowhere else but in the Great Lakes region, and most within Michigan’s boundaries:
In Michigan, Dwarf Lake Iris is especially concentrated along certain stretches of the northern Great Lakes shoreline, where it may occur for miles, interrupted only by habitat destruction, degradation, or unsuitable habitat such as rocky points or marshy bays.
Dwarf Lake Iris usually occurs close to the Great Lakes shores on sand or in thin soil over limestone rich gravel or bedrock. It tolerates full sun to near complete shade, but flowers mostly in semi open habitats. These areas can be very long and narrow strips bordering the high water line, or large flat expanses located behind the open dunes of the Great Lakes shoreline. Many iris locations are on old beach ridges of former shores of the Great Lakes. Fluctuating water levels of the Great Lakes play a vital role in opening up new habitat for Dwarf Lake Iris. During high water years, trees and shrubs along the shoreline may be flooded out. This flooding may open up patches within the forest where the Dwarf Lake Iris may spread. It is usually found growing under White Cedar, although White Spruce, Balsam Fir, and Aspen are also frequently present.
…”Lacustris” translates literally to mean “of lakes” and refers to where this beautiful iris grows. Dwarf Lake Iris was first found on Mackinac Island in 1810 by Thomas Nuttall, a renowned naturalist and explorer. Nuttall reached Mackinac Island after travelling from Detroit by canoe with French Canadian voyagers and the surveyor for the Michigan Territory. At least 1/3 of the species that Nuttall reported from the Great Lakes were new to science.
Read on for much more.
More Michigan flowers on Michigan in Pictures.