Fungi

Mushrooms have appeared in abundance in our area in September. Mushrooms are actually reproductive structures that seasonally sprout from networks of fungal cells in the soil called mycelium. These fungi are critically important in the forest ecosystem as decomposers, soil would not form without them. About 120,000 species of fungus have been identified, however it […]

Spruce, Fir, and Tamarack

White Spruce (Picea glauca) Two species of spruce are native to Minnesota, the White Spruce and Black Spruce. The spruce in our area are predominantly White Spruce, Black Spruce are small and found in swampy areas. The White Spruce ranges across Canada and extends south only into the northernmost United States. It is the tree […]

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 […]

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 […]