Behind the Design

Behind the Design: The Wildflowers of Michigan Collection

Contributor: Lauren Nyquist

Hi there, I’m Lauren! You may not know me by name, but I’ve been working with Peninsulas for a while creating copywriting, content writing, and illustration! There’s a chance you’ve read my writing on the Peninsulas instagram, or maybe even have a shirt that I’ve helped design. Today I’m talking about the inspiration behind the most recent design I’ve worked on with Peninsulas: the Wildflowers of Michigan Collection

I’m deeply inspired by the abundance of wildlife found in our state; each day introduces me to a new plant or animal I hadn’t noticed before. It only seemed natural to shine a spotlight on our state’s delicate, unique, and varied flora! I made a point to include not only a few famous (trillium) or threatened (dwarf lake iris) species, but also very common species like aster or wild strawberry, in the hopes of reminding people of the wildlife that they can find right in their own backyard.

Read on to see pictures of the flowers that inspired the illustration, along with a few fun facts! Check the bottom of the post for links to my research references, and places to learn more about Michigan wildflowers.

 

Cropped, image credit: © Derek 

Bellwort (uvularia grandiflora) 

Status: NSR (No Status Rank)
Peak Season: May
Habitat: Woodland with rich and moist soils
Artist's Notes: I included this flower in part because it’s so prevalent in the state, but also because I found its shape so intriguing! It’s unique and much different from the standard image of a flower, but still beautiful in its own right. 

Cropped, image credit: © Nate Martineau

Common Trillium (trillium grandiflorum)

Status: SNR (No Status Rank)
Peak Season: May
Habitat: Moist to dry deciduous forests
Fun Fact: Trilliums are known for cropping up in wide swaths when they bloom. An excellent place to see these flowers is in spring on the roadsides of the Tunnel of Trees, in northern Michigan!

Cropped, image credit: © Nate Martineau

Dwarf Lake Iris (iris lacustris)

Status: Vulnerable (Also considered Threatened according to the USFWS list)
Peak Season: May
Habitat: Moist sands, gravel, and limestone crevices, along the northern shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron
Fun Fact: Although the Apple Blossom is Michigan’s state flower, the Dwarf Lake Iris is Michigan’s state wildflower! It’s considered an endemic species to the Great Lakes region, meaning it only occurs in and close by the Great Lakes Region.

Cropped, image credit: © Derek

Houghton's Goldenrod (solidago houghtonii)

Status: Vulnerable (Also considered Threatened according to the USFWS list)
Peak Season: August
Habitat: Moist, sandy beaches and interdunal wetland, primarily the northern shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron
Fun Fact: Houghton’s Goldenrod is named after Douglass Houghton, a doctor, botanist, civic leader, and the first State Geologist of Michigan! Houghton discovered this species in our state in 1839.

Cropped, image credit: © Derek

Large-Leaved Aster (eurybia macrophylla)

Status: NSR (No Status Rank)
Peak Season: August
Habitat: Found in forests of all kinds, especially after disturbance like construction, logging, or fire
Fun Fact: “Flower Language” was a popular way of showing affection or communicating with others in the Victorian era. According to the Farmer’s almanac, the symbolic meaning of an aster is “a symbol of love” or “daintiness”.

Cropped, image credit: © Nate Martineau

Large-Flowered Coreopsis (coreopsis grandiflora)

Status: Exotic 
Peak Season: May
Habitat: Fields, sandy banks, and clearings
Fun Fact: At this point you may have noticed that some flower’s scientific names end with grandiflora or grandiflorum. The addition of this word means “large flowered” and is used to indicate a species with larger flower heads! Look closely and you’ll notice other flowers’ scientific names follow a similar naming scheme. Macrophylla is used to denote a flower with large leaves, and floribunda is used to denote a plant with many clusters of flowers (an abundance of flora)!

Cropped, image credit: © Nate Martineau

Round-Lobed Hepatica (hepatica americana)

Status: SNR (No Status Rank)
Peak Season: April
Habitat: Drier sites with a variety of trees like aspen and oak, and occasionally, rich beech-maple forests
Artist's Notes: Although I loved illustrating all of these flowers, I think my favorite is the hepatica! I find their miniature size, charming periwinkle color and rounded petals endearing.

Cropped, image credit: © Brad Von Blon

Wild Strawberry (fragaria virginiana)

Status: SNR (No Status Rank)
Peak Season: May
Habitat: Found in many habitats: forests, swamps, clearings, shores, roadsides, fields, rocky summits, and bluffs
Fun Fact: The wild strawberry flower does really produce fruit similar to the berries sold at grocery stores. It’s a bit smaller, but still just as edible, and tastes sweet!

 

Want to Learn More?

If this blog post intrigued you, good! I’m always happy to inspire someone to take a closer look at the world around us. If you’d like to learn more, consider picking up a wildflower guide and taking it with you the next time you go for a walk or road trip. 

Another great place to go for an introduction to Michigan’s flora is the Wildflower Association of Michigan! They have a facebook page and newsletter, hold conferences, and even have recommended reading lists and links right on their main site!


Resources and Links

I referenced the University of Michigan’s Herbarium reference website Michigan Flora when making the mini maps for each flower. Information for habitat and Peak season were drawn from Michigan Flora, the USFWS’s list of Midwest Region Endangered Species, and iNaturalist. Conservation status was based on the NatureServe Explorer database unless otherwise noted.