Apr. 6, 2017

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It turns out that naming a preserve after a road that it is not along is a very clever way to protect it.  I've gotten two messages in the last week from people looking for Ives Preserve.  They both drove the length of Ives Road without finding it.  Worse yet, Ives Road is boring.  It's an area of farms and gravel pits.  Ives Road deadends at a highway that the preserve is on.

A lot of people don't know how to find it.  I once spent a couple hours walking Ives.  When I came out there were three cars of police waiting for me!  They wanted to know if I was growing dope in there.  Two of those cars were from the local township, with their office about a mile from the preserve.  None of them knew about the 700 acre preserve!  It later turned out that one of our neighbors was getting creative in his cornfield.

Skullcaps get that name from little caps that cover the seed pods.  In this image you can see those caps at the base of the flowers.  When I found these plants, they had gone to seed, and it was the caps that caught my eye.  It was immediately exciting because all species of skullcap I hadn't seen before are very rare in Michigan.  People farther south get to enjoy them more often.  At the time of this discovery, heartleaf skullcap was listed as probably extirpated in Michigan.  When this population was reported, and verified with a specimen sent to a herbarium, it was automatically listed as threatened.