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; 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), […]

Winter Survival; Insects

Remarkably, tiny insects survive weeks and months of sub-zero cold each year. This post provides brief descriptions of how three common bugs manage this; Woollybear Caterpillars, Mosquitos, and Ticks. Woollybear Caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella) The woollybear hatches in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it nearly freezes solid. Their bodies produce glycerol, a […]

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 […]

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 […]

September Wildflowers

Asters (genus Symphyotrichum and Eurybia) Asters are very prevalent along the roadsides here in mid-September. Minnesota has many species of Aster, within the genus Symphyotrichum the Minnesota Wildflower website lists 19! The first two asters shown in the slideshow below have white petals. I believe the first of these shows the Panicle Aster and the […]

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 […]

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 […]