Nature Worth the Trip

When asked why they love it here, Michiganders invariably praise the state's natural beauty. Heck, nature is why we head Up North. It's why folks from other states vacation on the Mitten. Natural beauty, however, is not always where you expect to find it. More than just serving as a backdrop to other activities—four-wheeling, paddling, hiking, etc.—there are natural areas in the state that are fascinating destinations in their own right. They feature rare flora and fauna, interesting geology, … [Read more...]

Invasive Species: Autumn Olive

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) is a fast-growing Asian shrub that can be found in nearly every open field in Oakland County. In fact, it has established itself throughout the Great Lake states, the Midwest, New England, and south all the way to Florida. The shrub can grow upwards of ten feet high, and easily that much across. Its leaves are a narrow oval with a pointed tip. They grow alternately along the shrubs branches. The leaves are green, with a silvery-green underside. It was … [Read more...]

Invasive Species: Oriental Bittersweet

By Matt Forster The classic image of the South, ancient trees dripping with Spanish moss, has changed in the past few decades. The trees are certainly draped with something. It’s the frightfully fast growing kudzu, which has spread from Texas to Virginia, Florida to southern Ohio, blanketing the South in a suffocating green quilt. The climate zones are gradually shifting northwards here in the United States, but so far our cold Midwest winters have kept the kudzu at bay. Another Asian … [Read more...]

Invasive Species: Phragmites

By Matt Forster The story of phragmites is an immigrant’s story. It is the tale of a common reed from Europe—used there for thatching roofs—and how it rose to become the scourge of North American wetlands. If you live in Southeast Michigan, you’ve seen phragmites. This newcomer to the ecological scene has been overtaking roadside wetlands for years. Where you once saw cattails, tall grasses—usually well over 8 feet in height—now form a near impenetrable wall of vegetation. Michigan is … [Read more...]

Invasive Species: Garlic Mustard

By Matt Forster Every region of the world has its own ecology, one that represents a balance of power between thousands of species of plants, animals, and insects. As you can imagine, these are all very complex systems. For every plant that does what it can to find food and keep from being eaten, there is a bug trying to eat it and keep itself from being eaten. They each adapt and counter-adapt. The end result is that they find a way where all get a place at the table, so to speak, and none … [Read more...]