Native Flowering Shrubs

From late May through mid-June, we have noticed a succession of native shrubs blooming in north-central Minnesota. Each of them has similar small white flowers, and seemingly take turns blooming one after another. Serviceberry was first, in late May. It was followed by Red-osier Dogwood, then Viburnum in mid-June. Serviceberry Red-osier dogwood Viburnum Two species …

Quaking Aspen and Paper Birch

Quaking Aspen and Paper Birch are both fast-growing trees common in Northern Minnesota. While they are similar in some respects, they actually belong to different plant families. Paper birch (Betula papyrifera) belongs to the birch family, Betulaceae. Paper birch is distinguished by its white bark that readily peels off of the tree. The leaves of paper …

Tammany Trace

The Tammany Trace is a paved running/biking/skating trail that runs 31 miles through St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. The Trace was created by the parish in 1992 from an abandoned corridor of the Illinois Central Railroad, as part of the nation-wide Rails-to-Trails program. The Trace has been tremendously beneficial to …

Suburban Opossum

This opossum was calmly perched on a fence in our neighborhood as we walked by on a recent morning dog walk. Opossums are nocturnal animals, so seeing one out in mid-morning seemed unusual. Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is the only wild species of opossum in the United States, and it is our only native marsupial. They …

Kayaking down Cane Bayou

The pictures below were taken on a balmy Sunday in mid-November during a kayak excursion on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. Cane Bayou is one of several streams that empty into Lake Pontchartrain from the north, it runs between Fontainebleau State Park and the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. There is a convenient launch …

Mandeville LA, 70 Days after Hurricane Ida

People who have not experienced the aftermath of a severe hurricane may be surprised at how long it takes to clean up an area. Today, 70 days after Ida’s landfall, tree debris still lines the streets of my neighborhood in Mandeville LA. Mandeville is around 40 miles from the path of Ida’s eye, but still …

The Shaggy Inkcap (another mushroom)

The shaggy inkcap mushroom (Coprinus comatus) is a common mushroom that is also known as lawyer’s wig or shaggy mane. Reportedly is is an excellent mushroom to eat when young, but only immediately after picking. It turns black and dissolves into an inky mess soon after it is picked (which is why it is called …