It is no secret that northwest Michigan contains a globally unique ecosystem. Our miles of freshwater coastline bordered by steep sand dunes makes for a beautiful view from any overlook. If you look more closely, native plants abound – several of which are federally or state threatened.
Often going unnoticed due to its small size and rarity, fascicled broom-rape (Orobanche fasiculata) is a parasitic plant that completely lacks chlorophyll. It relies on a host plant, typically wormwood, and is therefore found in environments where both plants can survive. Arcadia Dunes in Manistee County is one of only a few places in the region where colonies have been reported.
Additionally, Pitcher’s thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) is a native thistle that can be found on the shoreline and grassland dunes only in Great Lakes dunes and beaches. It will grow for five to eight years before it flowers and then only blooms and sets seeds once during its entire lifetime – making it extremely sensitive to habit changes.
Unfortunately, our dunes are also susceptible to invasive species which create an additional threat to the natives.
One that is in full bloom right now and a priority for not only ISN but other conservation organizations in the region is baby’s breath.
Commonly used in floral arrangements, this fragrant invader takes over open dunes, roadsides, and forest edges – creating a mass of white and crowding out our native species! Read on below or visit our website to learn more about baby’s breath and what can be done to control it.
Subscribe to ISN's monthly enewsletter