Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hiking at High Cliff

Another hike last Sunday afternoon at High Cliff to enjoy the changing fall colors.

High Cliff Park Entrance

Butterfly Pond
HIgh Cliff General Store

Hiking up to the top of the cliff 

The Niagara Escarpment
High Cliff gets its name from the limestone cliff of the Niagara Escarpment, which parallels the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago. This ledge extends northeasterly to the Door County peninsula and on to Niagara Falls, New York. At the escarpment summit are vertical cliffs up to 25 feet high that contain fragile fern, bulblet fern, leaf cup, cliff stickseed, and long-beaked sedge. The talus slope below the cliff is composed chiefly of small, flat rocks, although some areas of large limestone boulders occur, and many seepages emanate from the rocks. The undisturbed forest on the slope is composed of sugar maple, basswood, white ash, green ash, elm, hackberry, and butternut. Closer to the lake, willows and cottonwood gradually appear. A rich herbaceous layer includes wild ginger, great water-leaf, false rue anemone, squirrel-corn, toothwort, and Canada violet. 

The Niagara Escrapment

The Forest Management trail  compares 
managed and unmanaged woodlots. 

Looking back down on our neighborhood from the top
Hiking back down
We tried to ID this plant with an app on my husband's phone, but the app only got as far as "yellow wildflower" and we'd pretty much figured that out already.  But after consulting with "Landscaping with Native Plants of Wisconsin" by Lynn M. Steiner, we believe it was Compass plant, a plant I'd like to add to our native bed next year.   The large leaves of Compass plant are held vertically with the tips pointing north or south and the upper and lower surfaces of the blades facing east or west. A newly emerging leaf grows in a random direction, but within two or three weeks it twists on its petiole clockwise or counterclockwise into a vertical position. Studies indicate that the sun's position in the early morning hours influences the twisting orientation, reducing the amount of solar radiation hitting the leaf surface. Vertical leaves facing east-west have higher water use efficiency than horizontal or north-south-facing blades.

Compass plant
Silphium laciniatum
Sun: Full
Soil: Sand,Loam,Clay
Moisture: Dry,Medium
Height: 3'-8'
Bloom Time: Jun-Sep
Color: yellow
Root: Taproot
Zone: 4
Spacing: 2'
Silphium laciniatum has thick, deeply divided leaves which often orient themselves in a north-south direction, hence the name Compassplant. Slow growing and long-lived, mature plants can have up to 100 large yellow flowers that open from June through September. Birds seek out the very nutritious seeds. Clay is Its Friend! Hardy to Zones 4 - 9.

Headed back home by the Butterfly Pond

Branches have appeared atop the osprey nest platform, so we'll have to keep an eye out for osprey nearby on future visits to the park.

The WI DNR has recently been working on a Master Plan for the continuing development and preservation of High Cliff State Park:

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