I never think of Michigan and Ohio as prairie states, but there are some areas where prairie plants are likely to grow. Both states had pockets of prairie several centuries ago.
Here are three prairie plants I found on the hike between Cleveland and Akron. All were growing in areas along the Ohio and Erie Canal that get plenty of sun. I actually recognized all three on the hike. None were in bloom. I don't think I'd actually seen the first one before. But it looks so much like its cousin, except for the deeply cut leaves, that it was easy.
This is cut-leaf teasel, Dipsacus laciniatus. My big lesson about this plant was to learn that teasels are in the same family as honeysuckle. Huh.
Here's one I haven't seen since our hikes in North Dakota. This is leadplant, Amorpha canescens. It had already bloomed, so those stalks you are seeing are the very end of the purple flowers going to seed. It's a relative of beans and peas. The name "amorpha" means "without form." This refers to the fact that although each stalk has many flowers, the flowers have only one petal, which is pretty odd.
I had to learn a whole new set of plants in North Dakota. That is unquestionably prairie.
Finally, here is one I learned the summer I spent working at a wetland in Wisconsin. Habitat restoration was part of the project, and I learned many new plants there. This is Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum. It's not hard to guess why.
This plant gets huge, up to 8 feet tall, and has yellow flowers like a small sunflower.
Look at the leaves and stem up close. The leaves form a cup around the square stem. Birds can even get a drink there or take a bath.
As always, I'm an extra-happy hiker if I learn or see a new plant.
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