Plainfield Tunnel Channel Lakes encompasses two glacial lakes, but the focus here is on the large population of Fassett’s locoweed. There are 3 separate parcels, but all are separated by just a few yards. A parking area is accessible from STH 73 southeat of Plainfield.
Fassett’s locoweed is an endangered species in Wisconsin and a Federally threatened species. Named for former University of Wisconsin botanist Norman Fassett, who first described the species, the plant has purple and magenta flowers and the typical pinnately divided leaves characteristic of the bean family. I often think to myself that the locoweed name is somewhat appropriate as it is visually a lot coming right at you, a bit crazy you might say. It is a rare species primarily due to its dependence on sandy lakeshores with fluctuating water levels. When water is high, trees and shrubs are killed off, leaving open sun for the locoweed to bloom in subsequent low-water years. It is known to survive for many years in lake seed beds, waiting for the proper water level to emerge and bloom. As the locoweed is the focus of this site, I did not spend much time exploring the lakes. Water levels were extremely low, such that there was not much to see of Plainfield Lake, in fact. The second of the two lakes at this site, which is actually named Second Lake, is found on the other side of STH 73 and I did not venture over there. Perhaps on a return visit I may head over there. This site is just a short jaunt off of the Interstate when I am on my way to/from “up north” and made for a nice stop to see a unique flower.
More of my photos (and full-res) from Plainfield Tunnel Channel Lakes can be viewed here.
|Natural Communities / Geology||Lake|
|Easy to Find||Yes|
|Best Seen By||Foot|
3 Comments Add yours
Beautiful! When is this locoweed in bloom?
Thanks! Blooming is typically May-June. These photos were taken on June 4th. I have additional photos of this species taken at another location on June 7th.
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Thanks! This site dedicated to Wisconsin SNA’s is wonderful.