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

Caterpillars In elementary school I remember bringing in these caterpillars with a few milkweed leaves for show-and-tell, hoping they’d turn into monarchs. Here is a similar show-and-tell. Today I’m showing the caterpillars on their Swamp Milkweeds; hoping to return later to capture the metamorphosis. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Described previously, but I got some better […]

Understory; Shrubbery #2, Gray Alder and Hazelnut

Gray Alder (Alnus incana) According to the Minnesota DNR, many smaller lakes and ponds in northern Minnesota are ringed by thickets of Gray Alder — commonly called Speckled Alder because of the scattered white lenticels on its stems. It prefers wet areas, which explains its prevalence on the shoreline. It has no commercial uses, but […]

Lily Pads

Watershield (Brasenia schreberi) The pads of watershield are slightly smaller than other common lily pads, and they are more elliptical. It blooms throughout the summer, but we did not notice any of the smaller pink-purple flowers. Its most interesting and noticeable feature was a thick coating of very slippery mucilage (slime!) coating the underside of […]

July Brings New Wildflowers #3 Yellow

Many different yellow wildflowers have appeared recently. So this is a longer post than usual. The first grouping includes four plants that have a “weedy” appearance. Despite this, their flowers are surprisingly attractive. Meadow Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum); upper left of image This is an invasive non-native species relatively new to Minnesota. Like the related Orange […]

Old Technology; Is Newer Necessarily Better?

Departing from the usual for one post to advocate an unconventional method to mow lawn — the old-style, non-motorized reel mower. I got one of these mowers for the first time about four years ago, and was surprised at how well it worked. Since then, I’ve used this type of mower a lot; the images […]

Understory; Shrubberies #1

Wild Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) Red Raspberry is a native plant common throughout Minnesota and easily recognized. It is likely the wild berry most often eaten by people. In our area the raspberries are especially noticeable now, because of their eye-catching ripe fruit. They are most commonly found in the dappled shade at the edges […]

July Brings New Wildflowers #2, Purple

The next two plants are examples of extremely noxious weeds that have deceivingly attractive flowers. Spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) The Minnesota Wildflower website does not mince words about the non-native spotted knapweed, “I hate this plant”! And, with justification; it contains chemicals that poison the soil for native plants. It is on Minnesota’s prohibited/control weed […]

Milkweeds and Butterflies

Monarch & Great Spangled Fritillary Most would likely recognize the butterfly to the far right as a Monarch, but the Great Spangled Fritillary? I had never heard of that. Luckily, along with nearly everything else, there is a site devoted to helping non-experts identify butterflies. Also, this milkweed appears to be the Common Milkweed (Asclepias […]