Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fog flowers

A remote trail at Tettegouche. A hillside in Duluth. Bound by flowers and the fog.

Most folks call it Bluebells. North Shore naturalists call it Tall Lungwort. It's not even in my Peterson's wildflower book. It's Lake Superior's own Mertensia paniculata. And it's blooming...a few weeks earlier than normal, thanks to this topsy-turvy spring.

In the course of two days, I found patches of Mertensia on the Piedmont ski trail (top) and in Tettegouche State Park (above). Both places have in common the fact that they are close to big, cold and wet Lake Superior. This wildflower belong to the lake. It needs the cool, moist air. Mertensia paniculata grows all around Lake Superior, and also on the cool, moist western slopes of the Northern Rockies....but nowhere in between.

If it's foggy because of the lake, that's the lair of the lungwort. When you see those dangly blue flowers and the pointed leaves, you know it's the North Shore.

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