I helped spot a hiker today for a weekend trip, and then I took a little hike after I dropped him off. Where? On the North Country Trail, of course. I've hiked his little piece a lot of times. I had noticed the Showy Goldenrod before, but not the Blazing Star. Both of those are prairie plants. Made me want to start ripping out all the stupid spotted knapweed to help these higher quality plants along. But that would be a thankless, unfruitful task. This is right beside a road.
Anyway, here's the Solidago speciosa, Showy Goldenrod. It's easy to ID with a tall, straight club of flowers, thick purple stems growing from a clump. The bees sure like it.
At first I thought the Blazing Star was just some of the stupid Spotted Knapweed. The blossoms are about the same color. Then I realized the leaves weren't the same at all. I knew it was one of the Liatris, but which one? I should have had the book with me, and will need to check again, but I think this is Rough Blazing Star, Liatris aspera. It's not very happy. I hope it manages to survive.
The only thing special about this section of trail is that it has one of the biggest hills on the NCT in the Manistee National Forest. Not that it's really very big. But you definitely hike up and then down. Ditto on the way back, by the way. I hiked four miles, and I don't care that there isn't anything "special" to see. One easy answer to the question, "What's your favorite section of the trail," is "the one I'm hiking right now."
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