We came to the North Shore to see Hudson Bay eyebright and purple fringed orchid blooming, thanks to a helpful phone call from a master naturalist and fellow wildflower lover who told us where both were blooming. And he was exactly right: we drove north, turned along the road he told us, turned again, crossed the railroad tracks, made one more turn, and saw purple fringed orchid gloriously blooming up and down the roadside ditch. Driving on up to Sugarloaf Cove on Lake Superior, we found the tiny, tiny arctic relict Hudson Bay eyebright blooming in cracks of rocks. The plants and flowers are so minute that we might never have found them without Phil’s help.
Scattered in crevices and seemingly growing right out of the rocks we found other small plants that Kelly photographed and we later identified: white upland goldenrod, which looks like small daisies, three-tooth cinquefoil, shrubby cinquefoil.
Every fracture or dip in the rock seemed like a tiny world of its own.
On the path down to the cove spotted coral root grew. Returning in the morning to get one more look at the eyebright, we also found beach pea in glowing blues and purples and magentas, spurred gentian, twin flowers and bunchberry blooming, early coral root, and, with the guidance of a naturalist at the Sugarloaf interpretive center, one-flowered pyrola and large leaved shinleaf. One-flowered pyrola flowers face demurely downward until they go to seed—one group we saw going to seed had turned upward like a crowd of people staring at the sky.
We stopped so often along the road to photograph evening primrose, more purple fringed orchids, a tall northern bog orchid, smooth oxeye, and fringed loosestrife we thought we might never make it home.
We did, though, already eager for our next exploration and grateful for friends who share their enthusiasm and knowledge for the same native wildflowers we love.
Phyllis Root, Author
Kelly Povo, Photographer