By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern
The Lakeside daisy is sometimes called the rarest wildflower in Michigan, and rightfully so. It wasn’t even found in Michigan until 1996 when Sault Naturalists Club discovered the only patch of it in Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. Since then, the Lakeside daisy has become an intriguing and important part of Michigan’s wildlife.
The Lakeside daisy is a perennial herb with striking yellow daisy-like flowers. Its stalk is hairy and can grow to be up to 40 centimeters in height. Its leaves are oblong and dark green, sprouting up from the base of the plant. The Lakeside daisy buds one flower from each stalk, but is likely to be seen growing in clumps. Bumblebees and halictid bees pollinate the plant. Wind pollination may also occur, but is less likely.
There is a relatively narrow surveying period of the Lakeside daisy in full bloom. This period usually goes from late May to early June. Surveyors have to travel to the Great Lakes region to view the plant, as it is only known to exist in northern Ohio, Illinois and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There is also an abundance of the Lakeside daisy in Ontario, Canada.
This plant is on the endangered list in Michigan and is ranked as threatened in the United States. Its typical habitat is limestone pavement. In recent years, limestone quarrying has become more popular, therefore destroying the wildflower’s habitat. In Michigan, the small colony of this wildflower exists on a roadside. There is a recovery plan in place in the United States to conserve the Lakeside daisy. Currently, the primary focus is protecting the delicate bit of the wildflower that exists in Michigan.
The Michigan Nature Association obtained the private land the Lakeside daisy is found on in 2005. MNA protected the land and collaborated with University of Michigan scientists to create a new colony of the Lakeside daisy within the sanctuary. The new plants were rooted in 2010 in attempt to establish a larger population of the plant in case the fragile, roadside population is damaged. Of the new Lakeside daisy population that was planted, 33 plants survived and have developed new stems growing out of the root system. MNA hopes this means the new population will have the ability to be self-sustaining.
In 2013, an additional 64 plants were added to the original 33. The entire population continues to be carefully monitored and preserved by MNA.