Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flora-Quest invades Marblehead

It was a perfect time to pair two of my great interests, Flora-Quest and Marblehead, Ohio.

This was our eighth year for Flora-Quest and it was time to change things up.  Coincidentally, May 13th was also the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Marblehead Lakeside, Daisy Preserve.  Perfect timing for a pairing.

Lakeside Daisy Preserve in full bloom on May 13th, 2014.  Photo by Paula Harper
Back in 1988 the rarest flower in the United States- Lakeside Daisy, Tetraneuris herbacea- acquired its own preserve carved out from quarry land.  This seemingly unpretentious yellow daisy is only found naturally occurring in Marblehead/Lakeside Ohio and in Ontario, Canada.  It is a globally rare flower.

Lakeside Daisy was named for the town of Lakeside on the Marblehead Peninsula. Photo by Paula Harper.
For a few short weeks around Mother's (early May) these daisies turn the preserve's rocky ground into a carpet of gold.  Except for some stunted Red Cedar trees, this gravel lot looks more like a place to park than a habitat for unusual botany.

Dick Moseley tells she history of the Lakeside Daisy Preserve. Photo by Paula Harper.
 Flora-Quest gets the most knowledgeable guides to lead our trips, and this year was no exception.  The daisy preserve had three excellent guides: Dick Moseley, retired Director of Ohio Division of Natural Resources.  Allison Cusick is the retired Ohio Heritage Botanist, and Rick Gardner, the current Ohio Heritage Botanist, led our tour.

Guy Denny was prepared to lead trips into real adventure. Photo by Paula Harper
 Guy Denny, past Chief of Division of Natural Areas and Preserves is also one of our guides.  These leaders have a life-time of experience in interpreting naturals areas.  People love to learn from them.

The Monday morning field trip to Meadowbrook Marsh.  Photo by Kevin Joyce.
 We had a botany/ birding trip to Meadowbrook Marsh.  Jason Larson (yellow shirt) and your blogger (coral shirt on right) had more fun than should be legal.  We both like birds and botany, although he probably missed the other "Sunshine Boy," Pete Whan.  Jason and Pete led the popular Flora-Quests to Adams County for several years.

"Miss Paula" Harper brandishing her umbrella. Photo by Cheryl Harner
 Jason steps up to do his guide duties and tells a bit about the American Bladdernut, Staphylea trifolia  growing along the parking lot at Meadowbrook.  It is one of our under utilized, decorative native shrubs. Paula wasn't actually poking him with that umbrella, although the photo does look incriminating!

Allison Cusick gave an excellent program on  "What is an Alvar?"
 Our lunch time meals were a welcome retreat from Monday's rain and Tuesday's heat.   On Monday, Allison Cusick, the retired Ohio Heritage Botanist kept us enthralled with his story-telling ability and tales from Marblehead's glacial impacted topography. He also gave brief accounts and locations of the very few other alvars in the world. So how do the glacially scraped surfaces of an alvar differ from a parking lot? They are likely to have plants, very rare and stunted plants.

Doty Twyford, long time Questor in front of the Marblehead Lighthouse.  Photo by Paula Harper
 Many of our questers ended the workshop at the most photographed location in Ohio: the Marblehead Lighthouse.  Built in 1821 by the Kelley brothers from Sandusky, our longest operating light on Lake Erie is a popular tourist gathering.

Looking out from the rail surrounding  of the beacon.  Photo by Ian Adams.
It was a special occasion to have the lighthouse open for tours, and Ian Adams participated in Flora-Quest by giving photography tips to the eager questers.  The 80 degree weather and bright sunshine made for a welcome surprise in May.

All in all, the event couldn't have been any more fun or successful, and we thank our partners, sponsors and patrons for making Flora-Quest the place to be in May.

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