Minnehaha phenology May 17 2019

An undated page from the The Friends of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden claims that the wayfaring tree has not been found in Minnesota in the wild. Except that is seems to be growing in Minnehaha Park.  another source opined that it had  been planted near the Coldwater Spring. It was spotted there in 2013, and could be the source of this plant.

The wayfarer tree (Viburnum lantana) is actually a shrubby bush. At a glance it might be mistaken for a dogwood.

Mica cap mushrooms (Coprinellus micaceus) are supposedly edible.  They are not one of the great mushrooms of gastronomy, but they are delicate and supposedly nice.  This clump of mushrooms disappeared quite quickly after it appeared.  Perhaps it was harvested by some mushroom hunter.

Mica cap mushrooms, probably. The researchers of urbancreek think you need to be an expert if you are just going to start eating wild, foraged mushrooms.  Also: Something that might be the common dandelion. It also might be the red-seeded dandelion.

Curly (or Curled) dock (Rumex crispus).  Weedy. This is not certain to be  Rumex crispus. Several similar docks are easier to identify by the seeds, which were not available in May.

Probably curled dock, here with dandelions of some sort.

The European lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majaliswas introduced into Minnehaha park by some idiot who probably thinks it smells nice.  And it does smell utterly lovely, but it produces red berries that look attractive to small children, who could eat one. This plant is basically made of poison.  Non-native plants do not belong in the park.  I dislike guerrilla gardening.  To them I say, “You’re not helping.”

European Lily-of-the-valley. Not native. Poisonous.

The Red-berried Elder (Sambucus racemosa) is nice to see in flower in the early weeks of spring. This is a very common shrub in Minnesota.

This is not the elder that liquors and cordials are made from. This is poisonous.

Western Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii) is easy to spot in the early spring, with its bronzed leaves.  This plant is found in all parts of Minnesota, and in lots of places in Minnehaha Park.

It was Homer Simpson who said, “Leaves of three, let it be! Leaves of four, eat some more!”

The American black currant (Ribes americanum) is edible, if cooked and if one likes a lot of little seeds.  I would love to have jelly from these, but have not got a reasonable supply.  The plant likes wet places, so perhaps elsewhere along the river bottoms.

American Black Currant is an alternate host for the white pine blister rust.

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) also makes a fine jam, I read, and I would love to try it.  I wonder if those jam-selling monks in the Keewenaw Peninsula sell such a thing?  Here, the flowers have not yet opened.

I have been wondering about those flowering small trees that one sees in the spring on forest margins or hedges. I begin to think that the are often the chokecherry.

Star-flowered lily of the valley (Maianthemum stellatum) is also called starry false Solomon’s seal.

This pretty plant has names comparing it to both lily-of-the-valley and Solomon’s seal.  But it doesn’t look very much like either one.

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is one plant that strangers on the park’s trails talk about with affection.  People point them out to each other.

Jack in the pulpit can be a modest green plant, or something bolder, with maroon accents on the stem and flowering parts. It seems that the females and the more sturdy and more showy, as depicted here.

River grapes, or Riverbank grapes (Vitis riparia) are a Minnesota native that will turn up in your yard if you are not alert.  They can smother a small tree, but really, the fruit is nice.  If you like tart and seedy.

This is a grape flower and another behind it, neither yet opened.

The leaves of a young basswood (Tilia americana) spreading to shade the skunk cabbages below it.

Basswood is one of those trees that looks like linden, but the leaves are bigger.

The woodsy thyme-moss (Plagiomnium cuspidata) is easy to find at Minnehaha Park and is prevalent throughout Minnesota.  It is apparently called the baby-tooth moss also.

woodsy thyme moss
A macro-lens picture of the woodsy thyme-moss.

The small-flowered buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus) blossoms are even smaller than you expect.  This is in bloom.

The small flowered buttercup is one of those plants I have seen forever and never known what it was.  It’s a common weed.

Ash trees come with various color names.  There’s green ash, blue ash, white ash and this seedling, the black ash (Fraxinus nigra).

Ash trees are being decimated by the emerald ash borer in Minnesota.  Eventually, 99% of these trees will be destroyed.

Just what is a geranium, anyway?  We all grow up with those brightly colored window-box plants called geranium.  But those should be recognized as pelargonium, and the name geranium reserved for several species of cranesbills, and also this: the wild geranium (Geranium maculatum).

Wild geranium is plentiful in the park, though it seems not to produce masses of flowers.

It is my opinion that a plant that is called a “nut” should produce human dietary nuts.  That is not the case with the American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia).  There are people who claim that the seeds are edible.  But “non-toxic does not mean tasty.”

The American bladdernut is a shrub.

Not every year is great for every plant.  This was a less-good year for the wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), both in the wild and in my garden.

The red and yellow wild columbine flower stands out boldly in the spring landscape.

The lumpy bracket (Trametes gibbosa), does what it likes: Slowly it digests old trees.

Some of the downed trees on the south side of the creek have a dozen or more of these shelf fungi growing on them.

The pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is also called the alternate-leaved dogwood. It has a really lovely lateral branching pattern that makes it perfect for landscaping prairie-style homes.  The long horizontal lines remind us of the endless flatness of the prairie skyline.

The pagoda dogwood also self-sows freely and is easy to find at Minnehaha. It was previous noted in 2008.

Question Section:

Do I really know what a trillium looks like?  Is this the Drooping Trillium, (Trillium flexipes)?

A trillium. Drooping or Grand?



Pavilions at Minnehaha, part 1.

This photograph is so worthy of study because the small refreshment stands, dance halls, illegal saloons, and “fakir booths” in or near the “Minnehaha Midway” were nearly never photographed. Only a handful of images from the era have come to light so far.

Two different refreshment pavilions just past the Minnehaha Depot. One has plenty of advertising, for Ives Ice Cream, Cream Soda, and Lunches. The other has a man looking down the tracks towards Minneapolis.–from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Continue reading “Pavilions at Minnehaha, part 1.”

railroad stories part 2: mapping the refreshment pavilions

the old train depot at Minnehaha Falls, and some buildings behind it
Facing west, at the south end of the Minnehaha “Little Princess” depot. Look beyond the depot building: there are 2 different businesses. –from the Minnesota State Historical Society.

Still looking at this intriguing image, it seems that the businesses beyond the railroad depot appear on a map from the Rascher Insurance Co. that fellow historian Stefan Songstad found at the MNHS library. The original map was printed in 1892, but it was revised multiple times. Continue reading “railroad stories part 2: mapping the refreshment pavilions”

Railroad stories, part 1: the Princess Depot and environs

The central story of Minnehaha Falls is the conflicting narratives between the virtuous, morally pure civic body and the goofy, rowdy, maybe-a-little-criminal nonsense that people actually engaged in. Call it control versus chaos, or even liberal versus conservative, though the situation had fuzzier edges that make it hard to push into any strict categories we might have today. But it was a real conflict that played out over generations. It really was a fight for the soul of Minnehaha Falls.

After the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners took ownership of the Falls in 1889, many of the refreshment vendors and fun-providers who had been located at the Falls migrated to the land just outside the park itself and set up for themselves there. Dance halls, ice cream stands and photo vendors went up on the land west of the park that is today Highway 55. Back then, it was the long thin block between Minnehaha Avenue and Hiawatha Avenue. It was called the Minnehaha Midway.

Minnehaha Falls in all her pristine and picturesque loveliness was photographed thousands of times, but the Midway was not. Only a few pictures exist of the Midway, and interpreting them has been a long-term project here at urbancreek.com. Below, one of those pictures:

the old train depot at Minnehaha Falls, and some buildings behind it
Facing west, at the south end of the Minnehaha “Little Princess” depot. This pretty little structure was built around 1875, and still stands today. But nothing else in this picture exists today. –image from the Minnesota State Historical Society, with permission under the “personal website” category.)

Continue reading “Railroad stories, part 1: the Princess Depot and environs”