Yesterday while biking around the area, I managed to get a few interesting photos
The best find was this clump of Showy Lady Slippers (Cypripedium reginae), the state flower of Minnesota. Previously I had only seen blooming Lady Slippers in late June, so I was surprised and pleased by this fine display on July 8.
Who would expect that Minnesota would be the only state with an orchid as its state flower? Prior to 1925, when the state passed laws protecting the plant, Lady Slippers were commonly seen decorating rural churches in the summertime.
Lady Slippers are uncommon and slow-growing. A plant may grow 16 years prior to blooming. However they can live 50 years or more.
You can see that this is not a good picture, but it was fun seeing these Sandhill Cranes along the road. They flapped down in front of me and ran down the road as I approached, so this photo is the best that could be done with just an iphone.
Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) have an interesting recent history. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s over-hunting severely reduced the number of this once-abundant species. In the 1940’s their population in Minnesota was estimated at only 40-50. Since conservation measures have been implemented, these cranes have made a remarkable comeback. Recent counts in Minnesota have found thousands of these birds.
They have rebounded to the point that some farmers consider them a nuisance, because they eat grains. Limited hunting of the cranes has been re-established in some areas. They reportedly are edible, tasting like pork chops; probably because of their grain-based diet.