Southwestern Chapter

Support the Southwestern Chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club

click here for membership form.

Membership includes a subscription to The Great Lakes Botanist and the newsletter - The Arisaema.

Meetings 3rd Monday of the Month

 Field Trips held in lieu of Program meetings

Click Southwestern Calendar Tab for full details

6:30 pm Social 7:00 pm Program

Peoples’ Church, 1758 N. 19th Street, Kalamazoo 49009


2019 Southwestern Chapter Officers

PresidentDave Wendling   Vice President - Michael Dombos   Secretary - Lynn Steill  Treasurer - Wayne Roussell

Program Chair - Cheryl Lyon-Jenness

Director at LargeTyler Bassett  Director at Large - Becky Csia

Useful Internet links

Plant photos, identification and distribution: U of M Herbarium

 Michigan Natural Features Inventory :

The Michigan Botanist 1962-2006 :

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary Classes:

Winter Wildflowers, Helen Smith, Michigan Botanical Club 1973 seed head identification :

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Hastings, research papers, classes :

Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserves, activities :

For Your Reading Pleasure!

Gourdneck State Game Area Master Plan

Prime collecting spot for the Hanes and WMU Biology group. This SGA consists of four separate units. Although physically disjunct, they share many of the same cover types, including oak, mixed upland deciduous, herbaceous openland and various wetland types. The two northern units are hillier than the rest and contain parts of Hampton Creek and Hampton Lake. These units also contain several stands of planted pine trees. The US-131 unit consists of oak forest and grassland as well as lowland deciduous forest and associated wetlands. This unit also contains parts of Mud, Sugarloaf and Little Sugarloaf Lakes.

Kalamazoo River Watershed Hydrology Report

Issued 2008 by the Michigan Dept. Of environmental Quality. Hydrologic characteristics of the watershed were evaluated to provide a basis for stormwater management to protect streams from increased erosion and flooding and to help determine the watershed management plan’s critical areas. Hydrologic characteristics of the watershed were evaluated to provide a basis for stormwater management to protect streams from increased erosion and flooding and to help determine the watershed management plan’s critical areas.

Texas Township Hydrology Report 2018

Due to high waters levels at Eagle and Crooked Lakes the township will initiate a pumping procedure to move water out of the lakes into the Portage Watershed via Bass Lake and Al Sabo. Report done by Prein & Newhof is interesting reading about hydrology, the watershed, homeowner considerations.

Past Field Trips (see Calendar Tab for field trip details after 2016):


Love Creek County Park

With Pat Underwood
Saturday, April 30 2016, from 10 AM to 1 PM

“On this hike we will venture through Love Creek’s rich mature Beech-Maple forest in search of the many species of spring wildflowers that bloom in late April through early May. We will also see many spectacular trees and other “wonders” along the trail!”
Pat Underwood has worked as the Parks Naturalist for the Berrien County Parks (Love Creek) for over 30 years. He enjoys helping visitors of all ages learn and appreciate the natural wonders of the outdoor world. Pat especially enjoys the “Three B’s”, Birds, Botany and Bugs, but has an interest in every aspect of the natural world.  
We will meet at the park’s Nature Center at 10:00 am. If using your GPS the address is 9292 Huckleberry Rd, Berrien Center, MI 49102. Phone: (269) 471-2617.  Directions: Take I-94 West to Exit 41 toward Niles. Follow M-140 south for about 16 miles to Deans Hill Rd. Turn right for 1 mi and then left on Huckleberry Road one mi to Love Creek. 

 To arrange car pooling please contact Dave Wendling at or call 269-366-8857.

Eureka! (Paw Paw River Forested Floodplain)

August 16, 2014 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

40239 40th Ave, Paw Paw, MI 4907 

EUREKA! Join seasoned, if not weathered field trip leaders Tyler Bassett and Brad Slaughter into the sopping maws of this large, unbroken tract of floodplain forest along the Paw Paw River. Known for its plethora of bird species, including breeding cerulean and prothonotary warblers, Eureka! and environs also support a rich botanical community, ranging from wet, frequently flooded forest to islands of mesic forest dominated by beech, sugar maple, and hemlock, unusual for southern Lower Michigan away from the Lake Michigan shoreline. This field trip will focus on the characteristic woody plants of the preserve, but we'll also let our eyes and minds wander to the impressive herbaceous plant community.

Read more about this and other Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy projects in the Paw Paw River watershed here (starts on page 5):

Carpooling: Carpooling is strongly encouraged! We will convene at the Oshtemo Public Library (7265 W Main St, Kalamazoo Township, MI 49009), and plan to leave by 9:45 a.m. sharp!

Bios: Tyler Bassett has remained immersed in botany and ecology ever since earning a B.S. in Biology from Western Michigan University in 2000, working as a botanist and ecologist informing conservation and restoration of natural habitats. He is currently a PhD Student at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant Biology at the Kellogg Biological Station, studying the importance of species and genetic diversity in natural and restored ecosystems. His mind rattles off a litany of plant names everywhere he goes.

Bradford Slaughter has worked as a botanist and ecologist with Michigan Natural Features Inventory since 2005. He holds a B.A. in Biology from Albion College and a M.S. in Botany from Miami University. After a long day botanizing, Brad can often be found sampling and rating craft beers of high regional fidelity, often surrounding by a slew of plant specimens.

Spirit Springs Sanctuary

Dutch Settlement Rd, Cass County                                                      

Saturday, June 28, 2014, 10 AM

This coming Saturday’s field trip will explore the diverse woodlands and wetlands of Spirit Springs Sanctuary, a 124-acre preserve owned by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC).  Classic glacial topography of the preserve features rolling woodlands that surround a 7-acre pond and border 65 acres of spring-fed wetlands.  A small creek connects the pond and wetlands. The mixed deciduous and evergreen upland woods are punctuated by openings where prairie plants grow.  The wetlands include an extensive black ash & tamarack swamp and a buttonbush bowl.  As you would expect, the variety of habitats support a wide array of plant communities.     A network of maintained trails provides access to the various areas of the preserve.  Come prepared for walking woodland trails and perhaps some wet areas.  Bring insect repellent.

Leading the trip will be Lynn Steil and Becky Csia, longtime members of the Michigan Botanical Club and volunteers with SWMLC’s land protection and stewardship committees.  Lynn serves on the Spirit Springs Stewardship committee.

Directions:  Spirit Springs Sanctuary is located in eastern Cass County on the north side of Dutch Settlement Road between Miller Road (on the west) and Day Road (on the east) near the St. Joseph County line.   From Kalamazoo:  Take US 131 south to M216. Turn right to go to Marcellus and in town go south (left) on M40.   After traveling 3 miles Dutch Settlement will cross M40 (a green street sign will be on your right).  Turn left (east) and go about 2.2 miles.  A small brown sanctuary sign will be on the right and the preserve entrance will be on the left. Red flags will be placed at the driveway.  There is a parking lot.

Allegan State Game Area: Oak-Pine Barrens

Saturday, May 31, 2014 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

4590 118th Ave, Allegan, MI 49010 

The Allegan Pine Plains support a tree community typical of more northern latitudes. The abundance of jack and white pine, and hemlock is attributable to Lake Michigan moderating summer temperatures. These coniferous trees co-mingle with black, white, and red oak, as well as an association of both northern and southern grasses and wildflowers. Occurring on ancient sand dunes and on the lake plain of what historically was the bottom of Lake Michigan, this mixture of unique forests and savannas are well-conserved within the 50,000 acre Allegan State Game Area ( Expect a profusion of wild lupine, puccoon, and prickly pear cactus. Hiking will be slow and mostly on flat terrain, but bring your boots and prepare your self for sun, skeeters, and ticks.

We will meet at the ASGA Headquarters (address above) at 10:00 a.m. For those wishing to carpool from the Kalamazoo area, we will leave from the carpool lot at US-131 and D Ave. at 9:15 a.m. 

Tyler Bassett grew to love plants first through learning their uses, and then through an irresistible desire to give them names. He earned a B.S. in Biology from Western Michigan University in 2000. He has remained immersed in botany and ecology ever since, working as a field botanist, natural landscaper and restoration ecologist. His employers have included Kalamazoo Nature Center, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Native Connections, as well as work as an independent consultant. He has been the president of the Southwest Chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club since 2008, and is also active with Wild Ones, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and the Stewardship Network. He is currently a PhD Candidate at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant Biology and Kellogg Biological Station, studying the importance of species and genetic diversity in restored ecosystems

“The Natural History of Michigan's Beech-Maple Forests and their Future”

Saturday, April 26 at 9:00 AM

Matt Dykstra at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute

 This combination of presentation and hike will begin with discussing how Beech-Maple forests formed in Michigan after the retreat of the glaciers and how they fit into the landscape utilized by American Indians. The history of these forests will be continued with how they were exploited by European-American settlers and what their condition is today. We will conclude the talk looking at contemporary and future challenges to the integrity of this natural community. During the hike participants will have the opportunity to see several Beech-Maple and other forest communities and further discuss their ecology, management, and preservation with Institute staff.

Matt Dykstra has been at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute for the past seven years as both Education Directory and Program Manager, helping to plan and lead educational programs at the Institute. His favorite programs involve taking people outside and helping them understand the amazing life and natural features found there. Matt has a particular interest in plants that began with a Field Botany course back in 1995, and continued through graduate school with a project focused on garlic mustard. Originally from Chicago, Matt is a graduate of both University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Trinity Christian College.

We will meet at the Visitors Center at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute at 9:00 AM.  Address is 701 W. Cloverdale Rd, Hastings, MI 49058.

Tree Diseases of Michigan: Monday, March 17, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

Michigan is widely known for its serene forests, natural areas, and beautiful and productive orchards.  However, a changing environment and invasive organisms are leading to transformations throughout Michigan forests and landscape trees.  Widely publicized examples include oak wilt and beech bark diseases in the upper peninsula and northern lower peninsula, Dutch elm disease statewide, and the spread of the Emerald Ash borer infestation that began radiating from around Detroit.  Continuous economic challenges to Michigan orchards in the productive west and northwestern parts of the state include Fire Blight, Cherry knot, bacterial wilt and leaf curl diseases—and can lead to steep economic losses by farmers and orchardists. A significant epidemic that got its start around 1900 in the United States is a persistent threat to American and hybrid chestnut in both natural and nascent chestnut orchards throughout Michigan (and in the tree’s native range) is the destructive chestnut blight pathogen.  In addition to this historic and continuous disease in Michigan, a new epidemic called spruce decline is progressing throughout the state. 

"Michigan Forest Communities: Today and Tomorrow"

Monday, January 20, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

DONALD I. DICKMANN, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University 

What a better way to start our 2014 theme “Michigan Trees: Their Past and Future” than to have Donald Dickmann speak to us.  Regarding his topic “Michigan Forest Communities: Today and Tomorrow” He states “The forests that blanket the state of Michigan have evolved through recurrent cycles of disturbance and recovery.  Today they constitute a fascinating array of distinct forest communities that is more diverse than any other state in the region. We’ll take a tour of some of these communities. How will these forests react as they face future forces of change? We may not like what happens but we can be assured that the inherent resiliency of natural ecosystems—along with our help—will assure that forests always will be a defining feature of our state”.    

He will bring copies of his book “Michigan Forest Communities: A Field Guide and Reference”.  They will be for sale at a discounted price of $12.

Biographical Sketch

  • B.S. in Forest Management, University of Washington, 1964

  • Ph.D. in Plant Physiology, University of Wisconsin, 1969.

  • Faculty member of Department of Forestry at MSU since 1973.

  • Acting Chair of Department of Forestry, 2010-11.

  • Taught undergraduate and graduate courses in silviculture, tree physiology, and forest ecology.

  • Author of over 120 scientific papers and bulletins

  • Principal author of five books. These include Michigan Forest Communities and The Forests of Michigan.

Speaker: Andy Sawyer, Michigan Big Tree Coordinator

Dec 2, 2013 6 pm

Andy will provide an overview on Michigan’s Big Tree Program (, which tracks the most impressive examples of over 300 species of trees found growing in Michigan. He will describe how to measure and nominate a tree, and how the database of Big Trees is managed. Big trees are exciting in that they are impressive specimens, but they are also clues to both natural and human history. Come prepared to be impressed and to learn a little bit about where you live.

Andy is an exemplary amateur botanist living in St Joseph, and the coordinator of Michigan’s Big Tree Program. A former science teacher, he now works as a baker, and teaches home school baking classes. Those are just two of his many skills – be sure to ask him about his project documenting plant specimens found pressed in the pages of old biology textbooks!

Plants in a Changing World: A Citizen Science Project on Plant Evolution

Dr. Jennifer Lau, Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University

Monday, November 18, 2013; 6:30 p.m.

We live in a changing world. Native plants are faced with many new challenges from invasive species to climate change. Species threatened by these changes have three options: they can migrate, adapt, or go extinct. Dr. Lau’s research investigates how plants respond to these types of environmental change. She asks questions such as: How do environmental changes affect plant populations? Is evolution an option for dealing with these new challenges? 

Even though scientists now know that evolution occurs and can occur rapidly, we still do not know the main environmental factors driving the evolution of our favorite plants. Answering these questions requires understanding the environmental factors that affect plant evolution, which requires large scale studies that include many populations across multiple years. Dr. Lau will speak about the science behind how plants respond to environmental change and will solicit your input on ideas for a new citizen science project to answer these questions.

Dr. Lau is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University. She received her PhD from the University of California, Davis in 2005. You can learn more about her lab’s research at, and read about exciting advances in ecology and evolution as summarized by her lab at

Urban Restoration and its Challenges:  Bow-in-the-Clouds

Nate Fuller Saturday September 7 2013

Our field trip to Bow-in-the-Clouds will feature an exploration into an urban treasure of rich wetlands.  We’ll follow the boardwalks into the wetlands to experience the sometimes subtle but always significant differences between several wetland types: southern wet meadow, prairie fen, southern shrub carr, and southern hardwood swamp.  We will also venture off trail a bit to take a peek into a large spring/seep that features floating mats of interesting plants interspersed with sedge hummocks. 

Nate will be highlighting the effects of habitat restoration efforts that have been going on for the last few years in the wetlands and adjoining upland oak savanna remnant.  Native plants have bounced back after the removal of glossy buckthorn, hybrid cattails, and other invasive species.  Visitors can expect to see some scattered showing of lovely flowers like blue lobelia, shrubby cinquefoil and turtlehead as well as wide expanses of joe-pye weed and swamp aster.

We’ll meet behind the Nazareth College complex at 10:00 a.m.  You enter from Gull Road and go north past the Transformation Center to use the parking lot west of the main building.

Orchids, Sphagnum, and More at West Lake Bog

August 10 2013 at 9:00 AM till Noon with Lynn Steil and Dave Wendling.  (Please note that the field trip starts at 9:00 AM instead of the usual 10:00 AM)

West Lake Bog is located in the 110-acre West Lake Nature Preserve in Portage.  It is a high quality bog with a great diversity of vascular plants and sphagnum.   A well kept boardwalk makes it easy to visit however wear water proof boots since there is water over the boardwalk in a few places.  At the end of the board walk you will get a great panoramic view of West Lake.

This is a great time of the year to visit the bog since you will see a great variety of vascular plants plus a diversity of sphagnum that are unique to bogs.  Lynn will focus on the vascular plants including orchids, ferns, sedges, and carnivorous plants.  Dave, a novice at bryophytes, will teach you about some of the sphagnum species and other bryophytes that are important in forming the bog mat.

We will not visit Bishop’s Bog since the water table is very high and obscures many of the smaller plants.

Lynn Steil is a retired biology teacher who still gives workshops on plant and fern identification.  She is very active in the South West Michigan Land Conservancy and has performed plant surveys for them.  Dave is a retired physician who has a special interest in bryophytes.  He is very active in the Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones and is a sanctuary steward for the Michigan Nature Association.

Directions are easy from the corner of W Centre Ave and S Westnedge Ave:  Take Westnedge south from Centre St for 1.2 miles to S. Shore Dr.  Turn left on South Shore Dr and drive a few hundred feet to the entrance to West Lake Nature Preserve on the left.  There is plenty of parking there.  If you use map quest or get directions on line you may get confused since the directions that I found were not very accurate.

Gourdneck State Game Area                                

July 20 2013 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Led by Chad Hughson

We will be visiting a power line cut which is adjacent to Hampton Creek in the Gourdneck State Game Area.  A vast majority of the uplands of the game area were formerly oak savanna prior to European settlement, but, due to fire suppression, only corridors such as this continue to support savanna flora.  Some uncommon and even rare upland plant species we should see are Frasera caroliniensis, Eryngium yuccifolium, Amorpha canescens, Aureolaria flava, and Aureolaria pedicularia.  

Although the main trail is dry and sandy, wetlands are observable and accessible at many points along the power line cut and include a range of communities. Given the time or inclination we can explore these areas further. 

The field trip will be guided by Chad Hughson, owner of Hidden Savanna Nursery.  Chad spent the first half of his childhood living adjacent to the Gourdneck State Area and is very familiar with it.

Parking will be at the carpool lot at the corner of Centre Street and US-131.  You will need to head south onto Angling Rd from Centre St to reach the carpool lot.  We will be departing on foot from the parking lot at 10:00am.   

Deer flies will likely be out in full force.  Dress accordingly and bring your preferred bug repellant.  Waterproof boots are not required unless you wish to trudge around in the wetland areas.  There are many spots where you can approach quite closely to the creek while staying high and dry.

Floodplain Forests: Kalamazoo Valley River Trail

Saturday June 15 2013, 9:00 to 11:00 AM

The esteemed Dan Keto will be leading us along the Kalamazoo River Trail. He will show us some of the typical floodplain trees and forbs, as well as the wildlife associated with the riverine habitat. We will also learn some of the history of the trail.

Daniel X. Keto is the Lead Interpretive Naturalist at the Kalamazoo Nature Center for 16 years and has received national and regional awards from the National Association of Interpretation, and when he is not doing that he is out in the yard digging and gardening.

We will start at Mosel Road in Parchment. Park along the river near the Parchment post office, meet at the corner across from Parchment post office on Mosel bridge (near the intersection of Mosel and Riverview).

Directions:  From downtown Kalamazoo: North on Park Street (Business US-131). Continue on Bus. 131 around curve,  and take immediate right on Westnedge Ave. Take next right (east) on Mosel Ave. Go about 1 mile, cross Kalamazoo River, and turn left on Commerce Lane. Park along Commerce Lane. You'll see us.

To downtown Kalamazoo from elsewhere: 1-94 to US-131 to exit 36A (Stadium Dr. to East). Follow Business-131 through Park St.

May 18 2013 Celebration at Asylum Lake! 2:00 pm Plant Walk!

Join the Michigan Botanical Club on Saturday, May 18 as we continue to explore our urban natural areas by joining the Asylum Lake Preserve Celebration and a tour of the Preserve. Western Michigan University’s Asylum Lake Preserve is 274 beautiful acres on the West fork of the Portage Creek Watershed. This passive-use recreation area has miles of hiking trails, lakes, and even a small river. Steve Keto and Tyler Basset will lead our tour from 2:00-3:00 PM.  Steve will focus on the history of WMU’s natural areas and in particular Asylum Lake while Tyler will show us the plants and explain the ongoing management activities.

You can come just for the tour or spend the afternoon from 1:00 to 5:00 PM for the entire celebration.  There will be refreshments, blue grass music, and a display tent at the Gibbs house across the road from the preserve.  An Audubon tour is scheduled for 1:30 PM, the Botanical tour for 2:00 PM, and a brief ceremony at 3:00 to dedicate a memorial plaque to Renay and Monte Piercy, founders of the Asylum Lake Preserve Association.  There may be another tour at 3:45 PM yet unanounced.

Parking will be across the road from the Preserve at the Gibbs House on Parkview Ave between Drake Rd and Oakland Dr.  The address is 3403 Parkview Ave, Kalamazoo 49008.