Nature Notes

Light Amid the Darkness

As visitors travel from the Clotilde Irvine Sensory Garden to the wildflower garden, they are greeted by sunny yellow flowers.

By Greg Lecker

Rosinweed Flowers – closeup

As visitors travel from the Clotilde Irvine Sensory Garden to the wildflower garden, they are greeted by sunny yellow flowers.  The plants bloom along the edge of the walkway leading to the shady wildflower garden at the beginning of Three-Mile Walk.  These bright yellow flowers are rosinweed.

Rosinweed at Edge of Woodland

Here, in partial sun, the plant is fairly compact. Rosinweed is a tall spike of a plant with pointed toothed leaves arranged opposite each other. The name rosinweed refers to the resinous juices contained in the plant.  The leaves of the rosinweed are very rough in texture, feeling like sandpaper, especially when one runs one’s hands “across the grain” of the leaves.

After entering Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden, I’m struck by bright light striking fern fronds.

Interrupted Fern

Interrupted fern bears spores on special fertile fronds that “interrupt” the stalk dividing the sterile green fronds that appear above and below.  These fertile fronds begin as short green clusters that become much more obvious as they ripen to a brown color.  This fern and Cinnamon Fern derive their genus name Osmunda, from the Saxon god Osmunder the Waterman, the Saxon equivalent of the Norse god Thor, who hid his family from danger in a clump of these ferns.  Fronds are twice cut or nearly so.

Life’s interruptions are common – in our daily journey as well as in navigating the natural world. Maybe “intermission” is a better word.   Not far beyond the shade tree collection, just past the wooded path that hugs the hilly ridge ravine book lies welcome sun. Tall flower stems rise from the purple wild bergamot and other low plants.  This is also rosinweed, the plant encountered at the beginning of today’s walk.  Dominating the prairie, these flowers and several related yellow flowers are classified as “composite” flowers – meaning that they include petals AND a disc of reproductive flower parts. Daisies are a commonly found composite flower.

Rosinweed in the Sun

In the sun, rosinweed grows tall – high above most of the plants in the Capen Prairie Garden.

To visit the Capen Prairie Garden of prairie flowers, either pull off from Three-Mile Drive into the parking lot or “pull off” Three-Mile Walk just before taking the pedestrian bridge over the ravine. While here, you may want to make a pit stop at the restroom.

In the circular bed lying at the center of the garden, thin grassy like stems support pale pink or violet blooms.  This is meadow garlic or wild onion; and it’s related to our common garden chives and onion.

Wild Garlic or Wild Onion

These wild garlic blooms are delicate, spherical clusters of individual flowers, bursting like fireworks into the bright sun of the prairie.

Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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