Minnehaha phenology June 2 2019 (Part 1)

By the second of June the early spring plants were mostly done and gone.  A  large number of invasive plants that do not belong in the Minneahaha Glen were showing their pushy selves.  The discoveries were so numerous that I’ve divided the day’s finds into two posts.

The Narrow-leaved Bittercress (Cardamine impatiens) seems to like disturbed ground.  Many plants we call weeds are the ones that grow on margins of fields and pathways.  This weed is incredibly invasive and will take over the understory if allowed.

I think I should just pull it up.  I wonder what the Park Board thinks of that?

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has a list of noxious weeds and Narrow-leaved bittercress is on it, classified as “Prohibited: Control.”  But who enforces that?

Creepy Jenny or Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia) is another garden plant that has escaped into the wild, and likes a streamside damp location.

A surprise to find on Ard Godfrey’s dam: Creeping Jenny can out-compete the ephemeral forest plants.  I found only this one example of this plant.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) can spread aggressively but this particular example is just minding its own business.  It’s not native to North America.

You don’t want catnip in the garden.  It tends to rampage.

The native Canada Mayflower at bloom in June.

The small inflorescence of the Canada Mayflower, which I did not expect to see this year.

False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) is a common North American native.  It is distinguished from the true Solomon’s Seal by this upright flower cluster.  The true Solomon’s Seal has pendant flowers below its single arching stem.

False Solomon’s Seal has leaves slightly like the true Solomon’s Seal, though this plant is much more a chartreuse green than the other.

Clustered Black Snakeroot (Sanicula odorata) has no fan club, no press agent, no spotlight.

Had I known that the Clustered Black Snakeroot was called Sanicula odorata, I would have tried to see what it smells like.

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) was used to create the hybrid strawberry we see as market berries.  The wild fruits are very small.

The wild strawberry does indeed fruit, though the berries are very well-hidden under the leaves.

Canada Moonseed (Menispermum canadense) can get mistaken for wild cucumber, or grapes.  This is a native, a woody climber with poisonous fruits containing crescent-shaped seeds.

Moonseed can have several slightly different leaf shapes, so don’t be confused with vines like the river grape.  Both fruit at about the the same time.

Hound’s Tongue is also called Gypsy Flower (Cynoglossum officinale).  It was introduced into North America from Europe.  It grows in weedy places, like the trailside where I found it in Minnehaha Park.

Hound’s Tongue has flowers that can be blue or red or purple, all on the same plant at the same time.

Silverweed Cinquefoil (Potentilla anserinawill bloom with some bright yellow simple flowers.    There may be at least two kinds of agrimony in the park, and this one is likely Roadside Agrimony (Agrimonia striata).

Common Silverweed is another name for the Silverweed Cinquefoil.  Despite its name, this is not common in Hennepin County.    While this looks like Silverweed it turns out to be one of the agrimonies.

Tree nuts have never been a commercial crop in Minnesota, with the black walnut being our most reliable nut producer.  It’s Oregon that grows a huge hazelnut crop.  But here is the Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), a shrub that can get to 20 feet tall and certainly produces edible nuts.

I admit that I intend to collect and eat some Beaked Hazelnuts..

The lovely thing about the Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) is the smooth glossy leaves.  It looks almost tropical in the Minnesota woodland.

Nannyberry also has edible berries, which most viburnums do not.

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) seen here growing next to a vandalized  park bench.  The vandalism in the park is sickening.  It’s also true that the Park Board does not spend enough money on park maintenance.  (Possibly because they don’t have the money to spend.  The Park Board has always been short of funds.)

Sensitive fern likes a wet environment.  Springs occur on both sides of the creek.

If you wish to identify trees by their leaves, it helps to have seedlings close to the ground.  This is probably the Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra).  It’s native in North America and a terrible invasive problem across parts of Europe.

Northern Red Oak can hybridize with the Pin Oak, but I lean towards this being the Red Oak.

The Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) is increasingly common in the Minneapolis urban forest.  The Park Board, which has charge of all the street trees in Minneapolis, includes it in their plantings.  Hackberry doesn’t have a “category killer” disease like the emerald ash borer or Dutch elm disease.  Birds like the hackberries and spread them around.

Common Hackberry is common in Minnehaha Park, where it’s easy to find mature trees and small saplings.

The American Basswood (Tilia americana) is an important tree in the Minnehaha forest.  It is among the tallest and longest-lived.  And the flowers smell lovely.

Basswood leaves can be 6 or 10 inches long.

A modest, compact plant: The Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum).  This was not growing in a dense thicket as can often be found, despite how this photo was cropped.  I wanted to make the thorns on the stem visible.

Prickly Ash twigs are useful to chew if you have toothache.  It is even called the toothache tree because of it.

going behind the Falls and getting hurt

It’s rare that Minnehaha Falls truly freezes completely. Even in the coldest winters, when you climb up behind the waterfall you can hear the trickling of moving water. Sometimes you can see the water moving through the ice.

The lip of the waterfall is more narrow than it used to be, and indeed has been getting narrower in the last 10 years with erosion. But every winter we see a wide curtain of icicles all across the western side of the Minnehaha Gorge. They are created by groundwater moving through the limestone layer that creates the lip of the falls. Starting in 1889, the Park Board has done a lot of work to de-water springs and redirect that groundwater, and much of that work has been successful. But the icicles still form.

Continue reading “going behind the Falls and getting hurt”

The “Hermits” of Minnehaha Park, part 4

a man rides away from hot pursuit, looking over his shoulder at the two men chasing him on horseback
This dime-novel-esque illustration of William Herrick fleeing hot pursuit perfectly conveys the breathless excitement of Herrick’s stories. And it was drawn by Art. M. Johnson, who was a lecturer at the University of Minnesota, and who went on to become a distinguished illustrator and botanist. –from the Library of Congress collection, preserved by the Internet Archive on hathitrust.org

Since we don’t know exactly where William Herrick’s sod house was, we don’t know whose permission he secured to build it.

Continue reading “The “Hermits” of Minnehaha Park, part 4″

WPA in 1935: soup line to “alphabet soup”

The Great Depression. Something like 25% of the work force had no jobs. Soup kitchens provided a hot meal, maybe the only one these people would get. Work relief programs were started by the presidents of the day, Hoover and then Roosevelt. These job-creation agencies worked on America’s infrastructure. And someone named Walter B. Dahlberg, possibly an employee of the parks, compiled some terrific reports on the works accomplished in the Minneapolis park system. These are available on-line for 1936-1942. (Perhaps any earlier reports were lost, or haven’t been put on-line yet.)

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Oddities, Part 1

Some pictures of Minnehaha Falls and the area around it add more mystery than they solve.

This picture shows the 1880s fence on the north side of the falls. It shows that the ground was trampled bare on the south side, which was a problem the Park Board worked to solve as soon as they took ownership.

There are nearly no other pictures of Minnehaha taken from this spot. This is a unique image.

Two young women had their picture taken with their horse and buggy at Minnehaha Falls. Samuel P. Cox had the photography concession at the Falls before during and after the change of ownership in 1889. He was there from at least 1887 to 1891.
Two young women had their picture taken with their horse and buggy at Minnehaha Falls. Samuel P. Cox had the photography concession at the Falls before, during, and after the change of ownership in 1889. He was there from at least 1887 to 1891. From the urban creek.com archives.

Continue reading “Oddities, Part 1”

The Tourist Camp, part 2.

From a slow and steady start, Minnehaha’s tourist camp blossomed into a popular destination.  After only a few years, more than 4,000 cars a season came through the camp.  In the 1850s through 1880s, Minnesota had been proud of her ability to draw in southern tourists escaping the sultry heat of summer.  In the automobile age, tourists came from much closer.  Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin provided 43% of all Auto Tourist Camp tourists in 1925.  Add in Minnesota herself and the Dakotas to find that 63% of the Tourist Camp users were regional folks.

a log cabin in the Auto Tourist Camp
The postcard craze of the early 20th century preserved some images that might otherwise be lost.  This image of a log cabin in Minnehaha Park’s Auto Tourist Camp may have given people the idea that this cabin was available for rental in the camp.

Continue reading “The Tourist Camp, part 2.”

The Tourist Camp. Part 1.

In June of 1921, a long-planned idea of Theodore Wirth’s came into being.  He had been the superintendent of the Minneapolis Parks since 1906, all during the time when America’s personal transportation system was switching from horses to cars.  In 1920, he had enlisted the enthusiastic support of the Civic and Commerce Association.  Plans were being considered to put a camping place at Lake Calhoun, Glenwood Park, or The Parade for tourists arriving at Minneapolis in automobiles.  The Northside Commercial Club beat him to it. In June 0f 1920, they opened a camping place for 200 cars under the bridge at 42nd Ave. N.  Maybe that was nicer than it sounds.  The north-siders also opened another camp in 1920 at Camden Park.

a map of the auto tourist camp.
The site of the Minnehaha Auto Tourist Camp was announced in April, 1921.

Continue reading “The Tourist Camp. Part 1.”

The WPA Works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 6: Sand

The WPA workers in Minnehaha Park accomplished lots of small tasks. They repaired playground equipment, trimmed trees and painted and repaired “stationary settees,” traffic signs, and fences.  One of their efforts was to erect a ten-foot fence across the faces of the sand caves in the glen as a safety measure.

The existence of caves in the park might come as a surprise to today’s urban explorers.  Stories exist of actually room-like caves, but no photographs have been found.  This picture of a “cave” is no more than a shallow indent in the sandstone cliff.

Three people from the late 19th or early 20th century, standing in a shallow cave.
“Sugar Cave Minnehaha Glen,” in an undated photograph (a Real Photo Postcard)  from the early 20th century. This cave  does not seem deep enough to keep the rain off.

Continue reading “The WPA Works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 6: Sand”

The WPA Works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 5: Picnic Shelter Maintenance.

The Picnic Shelter in Minnehaha Park, designed by Harry Wild Jones in 1892. The design is reminiscent of a similar, much larger pavilion at Lake Harriet.  This photograph is of unknown provenance and was published in a 2013 research report for the Park Board.  It appears to be (but isn’t) a cropped and horizontally flipped copy of the image further down in this post, which was published by the Park Board in 1936. These pictures are both cropped (and one is flipped) from a single larger image.

Minneapolis and her Park Board, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, had a complicated relationship with the word “pavilion.” The word means “an ornamental building, usually of light construction and designed for temporary shelter, refreshment, etc., esp. in a park […] used as a place of entertainment or recreation.”

Continue reading “The WPA Works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 5: Picnic Shelter Maintenance.”