Any Interest In A Botanical Field Trip To Isle Royale National Park This Summer?

What could be better than visiting Isle Royale National Park in June to learn something about the island's botanical resources? Spotting an outcrop of Packera insulae-regalis, a plant that apparently is endemic to the island. Photo by Professor Robert Kowal, used with permission.

What’s better than a camping trip to Isle Royale National Park? How about a camping trip to Isle Royale with a renowned North Woods botanist?

On June 11-16, botanist Janet Marr, co-author of the Isle Royale Natural History Association's Island Life - An Isle Royale Nature Guide will lead a botany workshop that includes four days on the island.

This special botany workshop, sponsored by the Isle Royale & Keweenaw Parks Association (IRKPA), is open to anyone with beginning/intermediate knowledge of plant identification who is interested in learning to identify the early summer native flora of this species-rich Lake Superior island.

Workshop participants will spend four days on Isle Royale learning native plant species, using such tools as a dichotomous key and hand lens to identify plants. Other topics will include discussion of island plant communities, rare species, ecology, and invasive species.

Most workshop activities will take place outdoors. Optional evening sessions will also be offered to review plants learned earlier. Field trips will include Tobin Harbor, Scoville Point, and Raspberry Island, places that are all located in the vicinity of Rock Harbor.

Contact Kristine Bradof (kbradof@irkpa.org) for more information about workshop registration or to register. Contact Janet Marr (jkmarr@mtu.edu) for details about the workshop itself.

A four-day long photography workshop taught by professional photographer and former IRKPA Board President Bob Guiliani immediately follows the botany workshop. Contact Kristine Bradof at the address above for more information on the photography workshop.

In related Isle Royale news, there’s one new plant to look for on the island this year. Packera insulae-regalis is so new it doesn’t even have a common name yet. Robert R. Kowal, an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been studying the Packera genus for decades and last fall published the paper proclaiming P. insulae-regalis a distinct species from other Packera on the island and around the Great Lakes.

While the flower has no agricultural or economic use, Professor Kowal says it’s intellectually interesting to discover a new species. It’s also beneficial for the plant for us to know it’s there.

“It’s important to know they exist before their habitats are completely destroyed by development and they go extinct,” Professor Kowal said when introducing his new discovery. “Knowing they exist may help preserve them.”

Thanks to the National Park System, Packera insulae-regalis should be safe, but many other unique and undiscovered plants are less fortunate.

For the record, football fans outside of Wisconsin need not fret about the origin of the Genus Packera. It’s named after John G. Packer, a botanist from the University of Alberta, and has nothing to do with the best football team in the National Football League this year.

The plant’s full name means “The Packera of Isle Royale.”