Fall Colors in August

Surprisingly to me, there already are hints of fall colors here — prior to September! This post features pictures of these early signs of season change. The conditions here in late August are nearly perfect — crisp days with nearly no bugs. Sugar Maple — August 22 Viburnum; Guelder-rose — August 28 Amur Maple — …

Hops and Brewing

Cascade Hops (Humulus lupulus) Humulus lupulus, or hops, is a perennial viney plant in the hemp family. Its cone-shaped fruits are one of the four key ingredients in modern beer (water, malted grain, hops, and yeast). Hops add bitter flavor and provide anti-microbial protection for beer. A wide variety of herbs have been used throughout …

Late Summer Wildflowers

Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera) There are 5 species of Blazing Star in Minnesota. The Northern Plains Blazing Star is similar to the Rough Blazing Star, but commonly has its flowers on stalks. All Blazing Star flowers are very attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and bees; and are offered by nurseries specializing in native plants. Sky …

Conifers

Red Pine (Norway Pine) Minnesota State Tree Eastern White Pine Jack Pine Balsam Fir White Spruce Black Spruce Tamarack (Eastern or American Larch) Eastern Red Cedar (juniper) Northern White Cedar Eastern Hemlock Bold type marks the seven trees in the list that I’ve identified in our area (so far); the three pines, a spruce, the …

Lakeshore Plants

Blue Lobela (Lobelia siphilitica) This native plant, also known as Blue Cardinal Flower, can be adapted to moist areas of gardens. Its species name, siphilitica, refers to its use by the Iroquois in treating venereal disease — a use that European studies failed to verify. Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) It looks innocuous, but Water Hemlock …

Morning on the Lake

In the three images above a beaver can be seen swimming across the lake, then raising his tail to slap the water, and finally the resulting splash as he submerges. It seemed like this beaver was intentionally showing himself to me and then swimming away — maybe to draw me away from the beaver lodge? …

Milkweeds and Butterflies #2

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) The long narrow leaves of Swamp Milkweed distinguishes it from other milkweeds. Its beautiful flowers make it a desirable plant in the garden and attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. As expected from its name, Swamp Milkweed is typically found near water in the wild. However it can thrive in an average …

Understory; Shrubbery #2, Gray Alder and Hazelnut

The perimeter of our lake has a nearly continuous natural hedge. The picture below shows this continuous wall of bushes rimming one of the lake’s islands. This bushy barrier at the water’s edge is predominantly Gray Alder. Gray Alder (Alnus incana) According to the Minnesota DNR, many smaller lakes and ponds in northern Minnesota are …