Southern Trees; Southern Live Oaks with Spanish Moss

Oaks are common both in Minnesota and Louisiana. Like pines, oak species are different in the north vs. the south. Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana ) is a distinctive and beautiful oak species found along the Southeastern Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Florida, and along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. Live Oaks retain […]

Southern Trees; Pines

Pine trees are prevalent in the Southeastern USA, but the species are completely different from those native to Minnesota. The Southern Pines native to St Tammany Parish, Louisiana are Loblolly, Longleaf, Shortleaf, Slash, and Spruce Pine. However, locally I’ve only identified Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). Loblolly Pine is the most common tree in Louisiana, by […]

Southern Trees; Bald Cypress

We have returned south to Louisiana for the winter, so this blog will have to change a bit. To start, there will be a few posts that compare trees in the south to counterparts that grow in Minnesota. The first tree to be featured is the state tree of Louisiana, the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), […]

Fall Colors; Tamaracks

The tamarack is unusual because it is the only conifer native to Minnesota that is not evergreen. The photos below show how local tamaracks have changed color from September to October prior to dropping all their needles. A disadvantage for deciduous trees is that they must expend considerable resources to make new leaves each year. […]

Winter Survival; Trees

Gentle snow fell in Northwestern Minnesota in early October this year, providing a wintertime preview. Surviving winter temperatures far below freezing is a big challenge for plants and animals. Today’s post focuses on how trees make it through — with some scenic pictures of the recent snow. Trees are largely comprised of water, a critical […]

Understory; Shrubbery #3, Sumac and Honeysuckle

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) and Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) Two species of sumac are widespread in Minnesota, Staghorn Sumac and the slightly more common Smooth Sumac. Staghorn Sumac bushes are larger, have fine hairs on their branches, and fuzzy fruit. The pictures below are likely a mix of Smooth and Staghorn Sumac. The tart fruit […]

Paul Bunyan Trail in October

Photographs in this posting show off fall scenery near Walker, Minnesota along the Paul Bunyan Trail, a Rails-to-Trails route between Crow Wing State Park and Bemidji (115 miles). This hilly and remote section of the trail, between highways 34 and 371, runs through the Chippewa National Forest. Scenic Overlook Fir and Aspen Forest Views

Patterns in Conifer Growth

Annual growth is reflected by patterns seen in the branches of conifer trees. Robert Knudson, a local biologist, points this out in a terrific YouTube video about our Northern Minnesota conifers. Pictures in this post illustrate two of the patterns featured in his presentation. Annual growth of Balsam Fir The pictures above show buds of […]

Fall Colors; Why?

Interplay among three pigments is responsible for the changing colors seen in plant leaves each fall. Chlorophyll — this is the key green compound that enables the plant to convert sunlight and CO2 to sugar throughout the summer. Carotenoid — a yellow/orange compound that is present in the leaf throughout the year. When green chlorophyll […]