Monday, July 7, 2008

Thimbleberries in bloom

Thimbleberries. It sounds like the friendly neighbor family in some British kid novel "Say there, Rufous, go and see if the Thimbleberries would like to come for tea."

But here by Lake Superior, thimbleberries are one of the secret pleasures of a North Shore summer, along with skinny dipping in August, the cry of glorious herring gulls (not the dorky ring-billed) and the smell of wet lichen on the ledgerock.

The thimbleberry flower is this huge fragile white bloom, like tissue paper cut carefully out in perfect patterns by a woodland fairy, then laid out just so onto the wide maple-shaped leaves. The blooms only last until the next wind or rain storm. I don't know what bird or insect does the pollination, but they have to act quickly.

The photo above is from my parents' driveway in Little Marais. The thimbleberry is found all around the shores of Lake Superior...and basically nowhere else in the eastern US. Like its blooming buddy tall lungwort, it's a disjunct. How cool is that? A plant that needs Lake Superior, for cool, for moist air. The only other place as moist and cool are the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

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