Friday, September 26, 2014

Watershed #21 - Bottle Gentiana

While walking a section of the National Ice Age Trail which runs very close to the Gardens at Waters East, there is a place where the Bottle Gentiana can be found.  The area of the plants has been increasing each of the last five years.  Presently the Gentiana stretches along the walking path of the National Ice Age Trail for about eighty-five feet (25 meters).  Not a large area but still enough of an area to make any hiker on the trail happy to find them growing wild - and - so near to the Gardens at Waters East.

an interesting flower

Bottle Gentian has deep blue flowers that never actually open, giving them their bottle-like appearance.  These flowers are pollinated exclusively by bumblebees, which are strong enough to pry open the flowers to gain entry into the inner sanctum.  Once inside, the bumblebees find a rich source of pollen and nectar.  This is an example of a mutual association – the bees benefit by having exclusive access to a bountiful nectar supply, and the plants benefit by attracting “loyal” pollinators that improve the chances for cross pollination.  This characteristic excludes smaller insects, that are less efficient at pollination, from robbing nectar and pollen from the bumblebees.

(this photo is from web)

The plants grow from one – two feet tall with multiple stems emerging from a taproot. The mature flowers look like large buds ranging in length form 1-1/2 inches.  Here near Lake Michigan they bloom from late August into the late September.  This is all part of the important watershed that embraces the Gardens at Waters East.

 as September progresses - darker colors

late September - photo taken this week - flowers dying back

In this very same area of the trail there are three old historic steam engine boilers used as culverts directing water from one side of the path to the other.  This kind of wet area is just what the Bottle Gentian need to survive.  I know the photo is difficult to read, so I have type the information here so you can benefit from another interesting aspect so near the Gardens at Waters East.

The stream, underneath the trail on which you stand, runs through an interesting piece of history.  The bridge that supports the trail is actually an old steam boiler.  These boilers were used in steam engines to create the power needed to move the giant machines.   Specifically, water was held in the boiler and wood or coal would be burned beneath it in order to create steam.  The energy produced by this reaction would create pressure, and when released, it would crank the pistons, which in turn, would move the wheels.   When the engines became obsolete the company would dismantle them for replacement parts.  Many such boilers were used to create an instant immovable pillar to span low drainage points and small streams.  Thus, old railroad boilers were able to create quick bridges with present day antiques.

 old steam engine boiler
used as culvert

the second of three steam engine boilers
with clear water running

Hope you enjoyed a favorite flower.

This is the wet area near the Gentiana
All part of the Watershed for the Gardens at Waters East.
Click on:  Watershed for basic facts and photos. 

NOTE:   Since this Blog is meant to be an accurate journal of the gardens
 and the watershed area surrounding the gardens;
no photos are “staged”, “arranged”, or ”photo-shopped” in anyway.
What is posted – is what it here.  It is what it is.


1 comment:

  1. We hiked a small section of the beginning of the Ice Age Trail when we were in Door County earlier this summer, and we've hiked several other sections, too. Bottle Gentian is a fascinating plant, especially when you realize how pollinators have to work their way into the closed petals to do their thing. It was recently blooming at the Arboretum here in Madison, too. How wonderful to find patches of it blooming on the Ice Age Trail!