Report by Aleda Koehn – A lovely early summer morning was the setting for our Pine Lake Hike. Seventeen participants had a choice of a walk around the Pine Lake Campus or a hike up to Mud Lake. Both groups saw many late spring/early summer wildflowers.
Nine of us started up the steep pitch which begins the trail to Mud Lake. In the woods, scattered all around, were the whorl of leaves and the delicate white petals of Star Flowers. This was only the first of the many flowers and other plants seen along our route. The ferns were unfurled and the bright green of the Hay Scented Fern covered open areas in the woods. We came upon a group of Maiden Hair Fern with its delicately swirled frond. A large patch of Interrupted Fern was easily identified by the cluster of brown spore bearing leaves midway up the frond.
We had two special surprises along the way. One was a grouping of Early Azalea, Rhododendron roseum, in full bloom. The pink flowers give off a spicy clove -like odor. What a great sight! The other treat was a small area of pink Lady Slippers. Some were very light. Do they develop more pink as the blossom matures? Some were the lovely pink we associate with this orchard. Other flowers included False Lily of the Valley, Form Flower, the lavender flower of Polygala, (Gay Wings), Clintonia, and the two tiered whorl of leaves of Cucumber Root, not quite in blossom.
We arrived at the acid bog of Mud Lake and, carefully walking out on the sphagnum mat, saw the buds of the Pitcher Plant standing up a foot or so above the funnel shaped leaves. The pink Bog Laurel was in bloom and the bell-shaped white flowers of Bog Rosemary. Just a few flowers of the early blooming Leather Leaf remained. We retraced our route back to our cars, moving a bit faster than on the way up. As a reward for our efforts, near the end of our trek, we spotted the delicate dangling red and gold centered flowers of our native Wild Columbine – So many lovely flowers and a great day for a hike.
Photos by Currie Marr are as follows: 1) Polygala or Gay Wings, Polygala paucifolia, Milkwort Family, 2) Bunchberry or Dwarf Cornell, Cornus canadensis, Dogwood Famlly, 3) Lady slipper, Cypripedium arietinum, Orchid Family, 4) Star Flower, 5) Clintonia, Clintonia borealis, 6) Cucumber Root , Medeola virginiana, 7) Early Azalea, Rhododendron roseum, 8) Pitcher Plant leaf, Sarracenia purpurea, 9) Pitcher Plant flower buds, 10) Labrador Tea, Ledum groenlandicum, 11) Leather Leaf, Chamaedaphne calyculata, 12) Wild Columbine, Aquilegia Canadensis.