The following is general information about protected plants in Michigan as well as some photos of flowers, berries, and leaves. Also listed is the official Tree and Flower of South Haven.
Kousa Dogwood (Japanese Flowering Dogwood)
A small deciduous tree 8-12 m tall, native to eastern Asia. Like most dogwoods, it has opposite, simple leaves, which are 4-10 cm long. The tree is extremely showy when in flower, but the ‘flowers’ are actually showy white bracts below the cluster of inconspicuous yellow-green flowers. The flowering is in spring, shortly after it leafs out. It has a relatively upright habit, unlike the closely related Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) of eastern North America, which has a sprawling habit. It also differs from that in flowering about a month later, and in having pointed (not rounded) flower bracts.The fruit is a globose pink to red compound berry 2-3 cm diameter, though these berries tend to grow larger towards the end of the season and some berries that do not fall from the tree surpass 4 cm. It is edible, though lacking any interesting flavour.
Petunia is a widely-cultivated genus of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae. Most of the varieties seen in gardens are hybrids. A wide range of flower colors and sizes are available. The foliage of Petunias are sometimes eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Dot Moth and Hummingbird hawk moth. If growing petunias, it’s best to leave them in full sunlight and only water them when their soil is dry to the touch.
Though commonly thought to be annual plants, Petunias are perennial plants, which means that they actually may survive for several years under ideal conditions. ‘Brandy’ is known as the most beautiful breed of Petunias. A.K.A. ‘Princess Petunia’.
A species of dogwood native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southern Ontario and eastern Kansas, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas, with a disjunct population in eastern Mexico in Nuevo Leon and Veracruz. It is a small deciduous tree growing to 10 m high, with a trunk diameter of up to 30 cm. The leaves are opposite, simple acute oval, 6-13 cm long and 4-6 cm broad, with an apparently entire margin (actually very finely toothed, under a lens); they turn a rich red-brown in fall. The flowers are individually small and inconspicuous, with four greenish-yellow petals 4 mm long. Around 20 flowers are produced in a dense, rounded, flowerhead 1-2 cm diameter, the flowerhead surrounded by four conspicuous large white or pink ‘petals’ (actually bracts), each bract 3 cm long and 2.5 cm broad, rounded, and with a distinct notch at the apex. The flowers are bisexual. While most of the wild trees have white bracts, some selected cultivars of this tree also have pink bracts, some even almost a true red. They typically flower in early April in the southern part of their range, to late April or early May in northern and high altitude areas. The similar Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa), native to Asia, flowers about a month later.
The fruit is a cluster of three to eight 10-15 mm diameter drupes which ripen to a bright red in the fall; they are eaten by birds which distribute the seeds. The berries are edible, though lacking in any interesting flavor.
Michigan Holly (Winterberry)
Michigan holly is a shrub with deciduous, soft, spineless leaves that make this holly seem rather unhollylike. Its long-lasting red berries aligned along slender branches make it a favorite winter plant after the leaves drop.
The foliage is dense, and shrubs grow with an oval form and numerous branchlets. The leaves, one and half to three inches long, are dark green and turn yellow in the fall. The flowers are insignificant, but the red berries last right through the winter if they’re not eaten by the birds.
Pipsissewa (Prince’s Pine)
A small perennial flowering plant found in dry woodlands, or sandy soils. It is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere.
It grows 10-35 cm tall, and has evergreen shiny, bright green, toothed leaves arranged in opposite pairs or whorls of 3-4 along the stem. Leaves have a shallowly toothed margin, where the teeth have fine hairs at their ends. The flowers are white or pink, produced in a small umbel of 4-8 together.
Trailing Arbutus (Mayflower)
An ornamental tree in the Ericaceae family. The species flowers are pink, fading to nearly white, very fragrant, about 1/2 in. across when expanded, few or many in clusters at ends of branches. Calyx of 5 dry overlapping sepals; corolla salver-shaped, the slender, hairy tube spreading into 5 equal lobes; 10 stamens; 1 pistil with a column-like style and a 5-lobed stigma. Stem: Spreading over the ground (Epigaea = on the earth); woody, the leafy twigs covered with rusty hairs. Leaves: Alternate, oval, rounded at the base, smooth above, more or less hairy below, evergreen, weather-worn, on short, rusty, hairy petioles.
Climbing Bittersweet (American Bittersweet)
Climbing Bittersweet is a woody vine which grows by twining itself around shrubs, trees, and other plants. It usually grows in thickets, fields, woods, or riverbanks. Climbing Bittersweet can grow up to 60 feet tall, hanging from the branches of trees. It has oval-shaped green leaves, up to four inches long, which turn yellow in the Fall. The leaves have small teeth on the edges. Bittersweet flowers are small and green, about 1/6 inch wide, in clusters about four inches long. The fruits of this vine start off green and look like berries. They turn from green to yellow, and from yellow to orange. In the Winter, the orange outer layer opens and falls off, leaving three bright red parts underneath. Each of the three sections has one or two seeds in it. Climbing Bittersweet flowers bloom in May and June. They are pollinated by bees and other insects.
Fruits are eaten by small mammals and birds, including American Robin, Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, and Eastern Gray Squirrel. Rabbits eat leaves and twigs. Bittersweet depends on animals to eat the fruits and poop out the seeds in new places. This lets the plant spread its seeds to grow new plants.
Bird’s Foot Violet
Bird-foot Violet is one of many species of violets in our area. This plant has blue-violet flowers and leaves shaped like a bird’s foot. It grows up to 10 inches tall. Bird-foot Violet grows in dry fields, clearings in woods, and roadsides. Leaves grow up to two inches long and are fan-shaped with three lobes (finger-like parts). Each lobe has small teeth on the edges. The petioles (leaf stems) can grow to six inches long. Bird-foot flowers are usually bluish, but can range from white to purple. Each flower has five petals. Flowers are larger than those on most other violets. They bloom from March to June. Bird-foot Violets are perennial, meaning they don’t die in Winter.
These plants spread by rhizomes, underground stems that grow sideways. Rhizomes can send up new stems to make new plants. Because of the way rhizomes spread, if you see one violet, you will usually see many. The rhizomes make ‘colonies’ of many plants. Bird-foot Violet fruits are small capsules, up to nine millimeters long, full of small seeds. Seeds are eaten by birds, including Mourning Dove, Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, and Dark-eyed Junco. Leaves and stems are eaten by rabbits. Bird-foot Violet, and other violets, are used by some butterflies as host plants. Butterflies, such as the Great Spangled Fritillary, lay their eggs on the plant stems. When caterpillars hatch, they immediately start eating the violet’s leaves.
The class Lycopodiopsida includes the clubmosses. These plants are often loosely grouped as the fern allies. The Lycopodiopsida traditionally included all the clubmosses, including Selaginella and Isoetes. However, subdivisions within the Division Lycopodiophyta are now considered ancient enough to warrant higher-level separation in accordance with cladistics.
The clubmosses are thought to be structurally similar to the earliest vascular plants, with small, scale-like leaves, homosporous spores borne in sporangia at the bases of the leaves, branching stems (usually dichotomous), and generally simple form. The Class Lycopodiopsida as interpreted here contains a single living order, the Lycopodiales, and a single extinct order, the Drepanophycales.
North American Lotus (Wild American Lotus)
This plant can be weedy or invasive. This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above.
All Native Trilliums (Wakerobin, Birthroot)
Trillium is a genus of about 40-50 species of perennial herbaceous flowering plants, native to temperate regions of North America and Asia. They used to be treated in the family Trilliaceae or Trillium family, a part of the Liliales or Lily order. The AGP II treats Trilliaceae as a synonym of the family Melanthiaceae. While trillium flowers are very attractive, some believe they should not be picked, since the three leaves below the flower are the plant’s only food source and a picked trillium may die or take many years to recover. For this reason in many areas, e.g. Michigan, it is illegal to pick trilliums.
Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants and mice. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they can be protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant garbage. Some trilliums have a flower which is bent downward, below the leaves.
Gentiana is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the Gentian family. This a large genus, with about 400 species. They consist of annual, biennial and perennial plants. Some are evergreen, others are not. Their leaves are arranged in an opposite way. Most of them belong to a basal rosette. Gentians have trumpet-shaped flowers which are usually deep blue or azure, but may vary from white, creamy and yellow to red. Blue-flowered species predominate in the Northern Hemisphere, and red in the Andes; white-flowered species are scattered but dominate in New Zealand. These terminal tubular flowers are mostly pentamerous, i.e. with 5 corolla lobes (petals), and 5 sepals, but 4-7 in some species.
The style is rather short or absent. The corolla shows folds (= plicae) between the lobes. The ovary is mostly sessile and has nectary glands. Gentians are fully hardy and like full sun or partial shade, and neutral to acid soil that is rich in humus and well drained. They are popular in rock gardens.
All Native Orchids
The orchid family is the largest plant family in nature. From the thimble-sized Mystacidium caffrum to the 20-foot-tall Renanthera storiei, orchids take amazingly different shapes, forms, and growth habits. In nature, orchids can be divided into four types according to growing conditions. Most are classified as epiphytes, or air plants, which grow on trees. The rock growers, or lithophytes, cling to the surfaces of rocks. Saprophytes are those that grow in mulch, often on the forest floor. Finally, there are the terrestrials which anchor themselves in soil or sand. As most orchids are epiphytes, they can be grown in tree bark, crumbled charcoal, pebbles, or on wooden or cork plaques.
Some orchids produce blossoms no larger than a mosquito; some orchid flowers are as large as a dinner plate. A few orchid fragrances defy description, while others resemble familiar fragrances – raspberry, coconut, lilacs and citrus. Others have no scent, but rely on shape and color to attract insects or birds for pollination. Blooms of hybrids of the Cattleya family may last from one to four weeks on the plant. Those of the Phalaenopsis family commonly last from one to four months.