We have all heard the adage, "April showers bring May flowers." That is especially true here at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. When I hike in May, I try to find three special plants-May Apples, Wild Lupine, and pink Lady's Slippers.
May Apples (Podophyllum peltatum) are part of the spring ephemeral wildflower parade that takes place in rich, clay soils along the Little Calumet River. Check out the Heron Rookery or Little Calumet River trails to see some of these white wildflowers blooming. From early April through May, you can catch different flowers each week. To learn more about early spring wildflowers, check out the short video clip we produced about spring ephemerals recently on our Facebook page here.
In addition to the spring flowers, May is also a time for the Wild Lupine (Lupinus perinnis) explosion across the park. This beautiful flower is the sole source of food for the Karner blue butterfly caterpillar. It blooms mid-May to June and it carpets the oak savannas of the park. You can see the buds blooming along the Miller Woods Trail at West Beach and also at the Tolleston Dunes Trail.
Finally, the pink Lady's Slipper orchid (Cypripedium acaule) is a rare wildflower you can see blooming at Pinhook Bog. It likes the acidic soil of the bog and usually blooms in May or early June. You can only visit Pinhook Bog with a ranger. Be sure to check out the open house schedule published on our website: nps.gov/indu.
Here are some upcoming ranger-led hikes in the month of May so you can tiptoe through the wildlflowers with us and enjoy one of my favorite features of this park - its wildflowers.
Pinhook Bog Open House - May 23 & 30, 2015 from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. Meet at the bog at 700 North Wozniak Road in Michigan City, Indiana.
Miller Woods Hikes - Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 1 p.m. and Sundays, May 24 and 31, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. Meet at the Douglas Center at 100 N. Lake Street, Gary, Indiana.
For more information on this or other programs at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, call 219-395-1882 or check the park's website at nps.gov/indu.