June 17, 2023

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

Because we are in the midst of another book, our wildflower chasing trips this summer have been focused mostly on specific flowers we want to include in the new book. This means heading out to particular places at times we are able to go and hoping the plants we want to see will cooperate by blooming where we can find them. Alas, not always true, but even when we don’t have total flower chasing success, we sometimes find unlooked-for surprises.  

This past weekend we headed north with a laundry list of places to stop and plants we need to see, but as we made our way up the north shore we checked off stop after stop without checking off any flowers that we needed. 

Then we came to a section of Lake Superior shoreline where we’d been told we might see arctic relicts.  We made our way down the rocks, careful of where they dropped off steeply and of the slippery places where, even in this dry year, water seeped toward the lake. In one damp spot, a splendid surprise:  Canadian tiger swallowtail butterflies puddling on the rock, flitting down to the moisture, sipping, flying away to return for another drink. 

Butterflies weren’t the only surprise.  In cracks of the rocks and in places where the water pooled we found common butterwort (so much that we understood how it got its name, since we’ve only ever seen it uncommonly in Minnesota before), bird’s-eye primrose with some flowers still blooming, three-toothed cinquefoil flowering, and round-leaved sundew gleaming redly in the moss.  We wandered from tiny habitat to tiny habitat, marveling that high on these rocks a small relict world survived.

Then back to the road and more stops.  By the end of the day we had checked off a few finds:  western spotted coralroot, small false asphodel, Canada buffaloberry.  We’d found several places we hoped to return to again when flowers might be more cooperative. We’d found a sweet little habitat of plants thriving in their own world. And we had spent the day in the presence of Lake Superior.  

We counted the day a success.

Canadian tiger swallowtail

See MORE of what we are seeing now!

Author: Phyllis Root and Kelly Povo,

Phyllis Root is the author of fifty books for children and has won numerous awards. Kelly Povo, a professional photographer for over thirty years, has exhibited in galleries and art shows across the country. She and Phyllis Root have collaborated on several books. This is their first book on Minnesota's Native Wildflowers.

One thought on “Surprises”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: