By Wendy Langhans:
I’ve travelled across Wisconsin more times than I can remember, but this time it was different. This time, we “shunpiked”. Shunpike is an old word, maybe 200 years old, which has recently come to mean avoiding major highways and choosing to travel along more scenic and lightly-travelled roads. So this time, Hugh and I avoided the swift sprint along the I-90/94 in favor of a slower paced and more colorful stroll along WIS 16.
And it was colorful, all right. Among the many details we noticed, it seemed like every farm house had some kind of flower garden. And I estimated that one out of every three garden had Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) – yellow, red or, most often, orange.
Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are not native to Wisconsin, they originally came from east Asia. There are about six species of Hemerocallis in the U.S. and a “ginormous” number of cultivars. My grandmother grew them, so do my aunts and also my brother.
As we cruised along the two-lane road, every so often I noticed an anomoly. I spotted some lily-like plants that were dark orange, with freckles. Their blossoms opened downward, rather than pointing upwards towards the sky. Because we were shunpiking, we had time to pull over and park to take a closer look. These lilies looked awfully familiar – very similar to flowers I’ve seen growing in our local mountains. So I took a picture and did a bit of internet sleuthing.
It turns out these were Michigan Lilies (Lilium michiganense) and, as you can see, there is a striking resemblance to our local Humboldt Lily (Lilium humboldtii). They look alike for a reason – their shape appeals to the same pollinators – including swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds. The butterflies cling to the anthers with their feet while harvesting the nectar with their tongue-like proboscis. Hummingbirds, on the other hand, hover while they feed. But both the butterflies and birds get dusted with pollen, which, as they flit about, they transfer to other lilies. In other words, they take the scenic route – they shunpike.
Which just goes to show, not all journeys need be swift.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, August 13th, 7:30 – 9:30 PM, Full Moon Hike at Towsley Canyon. Follow that adventurer’s spirit and step into the night on the ruggedly beautiful Wiley Canyon Trail. Look and listen for wildlife in the light of a summer full moon on this moderate hike. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot. Easy walk, 2 hours. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot. For directions and trail maps, click here.
Saturday, August 20th, 8:00 – 10:00 AM, Early Morning Bird Hike at Towsley Canyon. We think of summer as being a cushy time for animals. But for our local bird residents, it’s a challenging time, with soaring heat, little water, and vegetation displaying all the signs of stress. Join us to see who the tough ones are. Beginning birders are welcome. Binoculars optional. Easy walk, 2 hours. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot. For directions and trail maps, click here.
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at email@example.com for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, August 3, 10, 17, 24, & 31.
Saturday mornings, August 13 & 27.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
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