Minnehaha phenology May 12 2019

(The complete list, in alphabetical order.)

On this trip to the park, the flood water caused by a very rainy spring had finally receded far enough that one could walk all the way to the river on either side of the creek.  People were fishing.

A painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) sunned itself on a log in the creek.  The water was still high, just not flooding the paths.

The turtle was far enough away that I am only 90% sure that it is a painted turtle.  But the park is so hard-used and the environment so damaged that the most common-species is always the safest guess.
The prickly gooseberry plant has insignificant flowers.

The prickly gooseberry (Ribes cynosbati) is a plant I have ignored for years. I spot it; I move along. Now I learn that the berries, once they appear, are pleasant tasting. There is no word about what one should do with the prickles.  This was observed in the park as early as 1914.

The week of May 12th was definitely violet week at Minnehaha Park. Varieties in bloom included the downy yellow violet (Viola pubescens). This violet was seen in the park in 1900.  Also:

The downy yellow violet grows in large patches on the north side of the glen.

what I think is Viola sororia, or the common blue violet (despite its riotous color here).  Sightings of this are on record in 1914.  Also:

A perfect clump of blooming violets, with stunningly beautiful purple flowers.

the Canadian white violet or Viola canadensis, in the park since at least 1913.  And,

The upright form of the Canadian violet makes it the tallest violet in the Park

the Confederate violet, which being blue in the center and white at the edges, either is or is not a separate species of the common blue violet.  Sources vary on this point.  The common blue violet also has a white form, a freckled form, and so on.

The white and blue violet is sometimes called the Confederate violet.

Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) has these pretty purple flowers. It’s apparently edible. I know it is an aggressive spready thing. I happen to really like the smell.

Creeping charlie is an invasive ground cover. It roots along the stems, so it spreads quickly. The flowers are actually quite small, but I was fooling around with a macro lens.

The early season red stems of the bulblet fern (Cystopteris bulbifera) are distinctive and so pretty in a sunbeam.  It has been observed in the park since 1894.

The bulblet fern is easy to find on the south side of the creek on the rocky slopes.

Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) is always a lovely surprise.  It used to grow quite prolifically on the south side of Lake Harriet, but has been scarce this year.  I saw just this one plant in the park in 2019.  It was spotted in the park in 1900 and in 1914, so let’s hope it is not petering out now.  This genus includes the bleeding heart, a common garden plant.

Dutchman’s Breeches is a silly name.  They do look a bit like short trousers hung on a clothes line by the legs, but only a little bit.

Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) shyly hides its warm yellow flowers.  It’s easy to grow in a shade garden.  It is apparently called bellwort also, though I’ve never heard that used by anyone. I wonder what they called it in 1900 and 1915, when it was identified in the park.

Merrybells tend to grow in clumps and is widely seen on the north side of Minnehaha  creek. This was growing on the south side.

Not a great picture of the Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum). This is a male plant with its yellowish dangling petal-less flowers.  I didn’t see a female plant in blossom. The Early Meadow Rue has been recorded many times in the park beginning in 1900.

The early meadow rue, a male plant.

I had my doubts, but am now certain that this next plant is the one called Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense).  I’ve grown it, but it scarcely flowers in my experience with it.

The singleton chartreuses leaves are the plant in question. Sometimes called the false lily-of-the-valley.

Yes, fungi, too.  The Dryad’s Saddle (Cerioporus squamosus) is apparently widespread.

I found more mushrooms and fungi on the south side of the creek. This is known as the Dryad’s Saddle. It’s about 3 inches across.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an aggressive introduced plant that will dominate the understory of the forest, poison the butterflies that eat it, and crowd out native plants.

It has only one predator in North America, and that is people.  The plant makes excellent salad and even better pesto.  Help yourselves.

This is the larval form of garlic mustard. It will put up a flower stalk and create zillions of seeds.
The garlic mustard in year two. Once those flowers (in the way of brassicas) produce their siliques of seeds, the moment of greatest peril will be upon us.

The boxelder maple (Acer negundo) is a weedy tree that can be found all over the world.  It’s a North America native and a preferred food source and home for the boxelder bug.  The bugs don’t cause much harm, unless one lives in a house where the boxelder bug really really wants to pass the winter inside.

The boxelder maple leaf doesn’t look like a classic maple leaf, as seen on the Canadian flag. The Canadians call this the Manitoba maple, which makes you wonder.

This seems to be the European or Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa). It likes stream banks, and you can see Minnehaha Creek behind it.  But it’s also considered aggressive and weedy.  The black alder is a pest in several states including Indiana and Illinois, it’s under consideration for getting similar status in Wisconsin, and is prohibited in New Hampshire.

I was hoping for hazelnut, and was willing to settle for witch hazel.  Neither is correct.  It’s the Black Alder.

The Question Section

I have yet to determine the identity of this horsetail.  I suspect Equisetum pratense.

The horsetail is an ancient, weird thing. These are plentiful in wet spots on the north side of the creek.

This is a baneberry, either the red or the white.  I am not sure which, and will wait for the fruit to make the call.

This might be the baneberry with the oddly modern and slightly creepy name “doll’s eyes.”

Below, a picture of what I believe is the common liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha). Or it is something else.  Here it is growing on the sandstone walls of the Minnehaha glen just by the river. The green bits are about as big as a pinky fingernail.

Liverwort has these black and green bits. I think only the green is alive. I don’t know much about liverworts.

I’ve seen this plant endless times, and used to think it was something in the Geum family. I just do not know.

Hornwort? …. Do those have a two year life cycle? Hmm.


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