We had a great turnout of almost 30 people this morning who braved the cold temperatures at Maplewood Nature Center to study winter botany! Thank you to everyone who could make it out – you are true Minnesotans! We managed to stay out of the wind most of the time, as we walked the trails through the woodland, and saw prairie and wetland plant communities as well.
Ken and Scott explained that a healthy oak woodland, as seen here, should be devoid of green leaves this time of year. Green leaves would indicate the presence of an exotic species, such as buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) or Tatarian honeysuckle (Loniera tatarica). The canopy here is dominated by white oaks (Quercus alba) and red oaks (Q. rubra). Maplewood Nature Center has burned the understory in recent years to control buckthorn. They have an on-going buckthorn control program.
Scott pointed out some of the herbacous understory plants whose dead leaves and stems persisted. This is meadow rue (Anemone sp.).
The distinctive dark, rough, flaky bark made black cherry (Prunus serotina) easy to spot in the winter woodland landscape.
Scott talking to us about the prairie community along the trail at the edge of the wetland.
Gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) was one of several species from the composite group that we noted in the prairie.