A downy, native wildflower is staging a comeback along the Paint Creek Trail south of Gunn Road. Two years ago, the Oakland Township Parks Stewardship and Maintenance crews partnered to eliminate invasive shrubs along the hillside there. Ben noticed native flowers and grasses and hoped it was a likely spot for restoration. And it was!
This year a large patch of Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus) emerged as sunlight finally reached the soil disturbed after the shrub removal. This species is adapted to fire and disturbance. They no doubt thrived along the trail when train sparks caused periodic fires along the tracks. So when Ben created the right conditions, the Beardtongue seeds, which had waited patiently in the over-shadowed seed bank for years, made their move. Now bumblebees probe the blossoms with their long tongues, feeding on the nectar and dusting themselves with pollen. So maybe even more of these fuzzy blooms will nod their lavender heads along the trail next year!