Fall 2021 VOL. 69 No. 3
For at least twenty years, Garden visitors and staff have noticed a large matted down patch of sweet flag plants (Acorus americanus) in the wetland garden. The cause of the plants being matted down has remained a mystery and this summer Garden field staff and the Mississippi River Green Team youth crew members enjoyed coming up with ideas about what kinds of creatures could be disturbing the plants. One morning, while working in the upland garden, staff caught a glimpse of a large, dark animal scurrying across the path nearby. We did not get a good enough look to identify it, but we let our imaginations run wild and our guesses ranged from an otter to a bear cub (both very unlikely). Wondering if this could be the unknown creature causing the matting down of plants.in the wetland garden, we decided to look for some answers.
Below: A small oppossum at night in the Garden.
Over the next several months, we set up a wildlife camera in different locations and had the chance to see just how many animals emerge to explore the Garden after dark.
The Garden staff and Green Team crew members looked forward to checking the camera each morning to see what the Garden’s nocturnal residents were up to the night before.
The camera captured the surprised look of a robin peering directly into the camera; a chipmunk with its cheeks stuffed full of leaves; and a tiny opossum who resurfaced in new locations every few weeks.
While we are still unsure why exactly the sweet flag plants are matted down year after year, we have discovered just how busy the Garden gets after the gates close. This quiet oasis has a bustling nightlife- and who knows which critters we’ll capture on camera next!
Below: Nighttime Raccoon caught on camera at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden.
The most notable –and likeliest culprits of the flattened sweet flag—were a band of at least five raccoons that traveled around the Garden together and were even caught on camera knocking over a “Stay on Trail” sign! No matter where we chose to put the camera for the night, these mischievous raccoons would find their way into the frame.
Thanks to all of you have been able to help us over the years!❖
Elise Jacobson is a Natural Resources Specialist at the Garden. Article appears courtesy of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. All the photos are ©Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
History notes: In 2002, while a crew of the Wildlife Research Center was night tracking deer they counted over 50 raccoons in the Garden. Other Garden animals include Red Fox, Cottontail, Red & Gray Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Eastern Mole, Meadow Vole, Short-tailed Shrew, Deer Mouse, House Mouse and the occasional White-tailed Deer.
Another end of a Garden season that began with masks, one-way trails, staggered entry times and social distancing requirements and evolved to no restrictions. I hope you have enjoyed the seasonal transformations of each Garden Trail.
In the late summer, the Upland Garden is my favorite with the contrasting goldenrods and the purple asters. I was excited to read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s chapter of “Asters and Goldenrod” in her book, raiding Sweetgrass. At her freshman intake interview, she admitted wanting to study botany to learn why asters and goldenrod looked so beautiful together. Kimmerer was told that was not science. Her childhood in the woods was of relationships, where plants were teachers and companions while at the University, plants were objects. As a new PhD, she listened to a Navajo woman who could name the plants of her valley, where it lived, when it bloomed, who it lived near, who ate it, what nest used its fibers and the kind of medicine it offered. Kimmerer’s new insight was combining the Indigenous ways of knowing and her academic book learning. The Indigenous people’s knowledge is gained through four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion, and spirit while science uses mind and possibly body. To the eyes of bees and humans, goldenrods and asters appear similar. However as complementary gold and purple flowers, they receive more pollinator visits than if they were growing alone. Kimmerer is able to merge science and beauty.
Our 2021 Annual Membership Meeting again was held by Zoom, with more members attending than in previous years. Author and biologist, John Moriarty engaged us with Minnesota’s uniqueness, the center of North America with 3 ecosystems: prairie tallgrass to the south and west, the deciduous forests extending to the east and the spruce-fir forests to the east and north. The fragmentation of these habitats with expansion of farming, industry and population growth plus climate change will be our challenge. His three most recent books are available on our website. I hope more of you can join us next year for another speaker forum. Let me know of a speaker you would want to hear.
The Friends’ Board voted to raise membership fees, the first in more than a decade. Starting in 2022, basic membership will be $30. Your membership dues are used to support the Garden with plantings and special projects. Higher levels of membership are available for those who can give more and there is the opportunity to support the Garden through gifts honoring friends and family.
The members voted at the Annual Membership Meeting for the 2000-2021 Friends’ Board of Directors to continue for 2021-2022. (List of Directors here) I hope you were able to catch the last of the blooms – Witch Hazel.
May the Garden Be with You ❖
"During our first September at Trail Wood I brought home from the North Woods a branch of witch hazel bearing several clusters of seed capsules. Late that night I was awakened by sharp rapping or striking sounds repeated again and again. The next morning I found that the capsules had opened and pressure from within had shot the seeds out as an orange pip is propelled when squeezed between a thumb and forefinger. They lay scattered over the floor of my study where they had fallen after striking the walls. On occasion such seeds are hurled through the air as far as forty feet. Just such an experience as mine is recorded by Henry Thoreau in the twelfth volume of his Journal. The date of his entry was September 21, 1859. Thus 100 years later, in the same month of autumn, history had repeated itself at Trail Wood."
Edwin Way Teale from A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm
Susan Wilkins' comments appear courtesy of the MPRB.
As I am writing this note, autumn is in full swing at the Wildflower Garden. The temperatures just dropped after a long spell of mild weather and the leaves of vines, shrubs, trees, wildflowers, ferns, really anything that was once green, is changing before our eyes. The asters are nearly done flowering and a few sweet coneflower blossoms remain. Sugar maple leaves are turning fiery hues of red and festive shades of orange and the tamaracks are starting to deepen into a golden brown this year. The witch hazel has begun to flower with its spiderly yellow blooms, and the eastern wahoo fruits, a sure sign of deep autumn, are still ripening and getting ready to burst open in November most likely. I love these days of mid-October as the progression of the changing season picks up its pace and still has plenty of botanical bonuses to delight us with in the days ahead.
It’s been another year of sharing the beauty and joy of the Garden in many familiar and also adaptive ways during the on-going pandemic. Operating the Garden over these past two seasons has required incredible flexibility on the part of staff as we’ve been nearly constantly adapting and developing strategies that allow us to operate safely while engaging visitors with nature-filled experiences and programming.
Garden Staff did an amazing job of creating activities for the Wirth Beach Nature Station that allowed for creative learning and enjoyment while meeting social distancing requirements at Wirth Beach. This is no small feat and over 2,370 kids and adults were able to enjoy nature-based activities at Wirth Beach as a result of these program development and engagement efforts.
Below: Wirth Beach Station manned by Garden Staff. Photo MPRB.
We also started reintroducing several Garden programs in July, with an overwhelming response from the community! Week after week, Garden Story Time, Early Birders, and a suite of engaging evening programs like the Illuminated Trails tour and the Glow-in the Night Hike, drew an average of about 20 people per program. The Illuminated Trails evening tour was attended by 65 people, wow! The great response to these program offerings is a testament to how much people love learning about and exploring nature together in fun and engaging ways.
Garden Staff also developed “pop-up” programs on a variety of Garden-themed topics and staffed these sessions out on popular trails several times a week later in the season. Visitors seemed to enjoy these staff-curated programs and we look forward to offering more of these in future seasons.
We are already busy planning for the 2022 season and look forward to seeing you out on the trails at the Garden in April. May the forthcoming winter season be one of replenishment and beauty and full of many nourishing nature-filled moments for you and yours.
Enjoy winter; and, as needed, think spring!❖
Tamaracks in Fall splendor in the Wildflower Garden wetland. Photo G D Bebeau
by Gary Bebeau
Oaks, concentrated in a single genus, Quercus, make up more forest tree biomass than any other woody plant genus in North America and Mexico. There are over 400 known species worldwide today.(1) When did they become so dominant and what will happen to them as the climate warms?
It is uncertain if the oaks arose first in Europe or in North America. There are fossil pollen grains found in Austria dating to 53 million years ago. There is a fossil acorn from Oregon dating to 48 million years ago.(2) What is known is that as the tropical seas and forests of the Eocene epoch moved southward in North America the cooling climate allowed oaks to spread southward, eventually stopping only when the tropics south of Panama were reached, diverging into 90 species 6 of which are native to Minnesota along with a few rare hybrids.(3) Ice ages have come and gone and the oaks have always re-forested the territory. Today in Minnesota there are 1.5 million acres that are predominately oak out of 15.7 million acres of timberland.(4) This is split between the 6 species so its best here to list the Minnesota species and how oaks are grouped.
Oaks are divided into 8 lineages of which 3 exist in North America: the reds, the whites and the southern live oaks of the Southeast. The red group has leaves with awns on the lobes (bristles) and matures acorns in two years. The white group has leaves without awns and matures acorns in one year.
In Minnesota we have the Red Oak, Q. rubra, Black Oak, Q. velutina, and the Northern Pin Oak, Q. ellipsoidalis, in the red group; the White Oak, Q. alba, Swamp White Oak, Q. bicolor, and the Bur Oak, Q. macrocarpa, in the white group. The Wildflower Garden hosts five, excepting the Black which is historical.
Oak acorns are important for wildlife, but carbon storage is important for all life and of all the forest trees oak, along with maple, hickory and beech sequester more pounds of carbon than any other tree species. A typical oak of 20 inches diameter will store over 2,000 pounds and tuck in an additional 20 to 25 pounds per year.(5)
Continued below the graphs.
Below: 1st graph - carbon storage levels of various Minnesota tree species groups. Chart source -see note 5. 2nd graph - carbon storage of a single oak tree depending on age. Chart G D Bebeau from source 5.
A standard hypothesis is that warming climate will expand the current northern limit of growth of a species and retard it at its southern limit of growth. Thus, the coniferous boreal forests of northern Minnesota will be pushed northward and the hardwoods will move north. Minnesota’s climate has moved north 70 miles in the last 50 years and is estimated to move another 125-250 miles in the next 50 years.(6) Current experiments indicate the firs and spruces will have great difficulty but the temperate oaks and maples may not, which means that oaks will become even more dominant in areas like Minnesota although the southern growth limit may move north. The chart(7) shown here gives the range and tree concentration in Minnesota of Bur Oak. That of Red Oak is quite similar whereas White Oak and Northern Pin cover much less territory.
Estimates by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources indicate that the White Oak may be able to gain territory in NE Minnesota where it is rare today, the Bur Oak will maintain its territory but the Red Oak will move out of SE Minnesota where it has areas of dominance today. The Wildflower Garden is situated in an area that should remain habitable to all the Oaks still present. The Chinkapin Oak, Q. muehlenbergii, which is historical to southern Minnesota and to the Wildflower Garden may be able to move northward from Iowa.
Below: Chinkapin or Yellow Oak, Quercus muehlinbergii, introduced to the Wildflower Garden in 1922. Photo G D Bebeau
Gary Bebeau is a Friends member and Director.
Do the words “Field Guide” get you remembering those famous Field Guide of Birds by Robert Tory Peterson you used to identify the birds in your local area? What about that flower field guide you poured over for hours trying to memorize what to look for outside? Maybe you picked up one identifying sea shells before you’d ever seen the Atlanta or Pacific in person. It’s likely we’ve all thumbed through field guides or taken one along on that most memorable of vacations.
Thanks to author John J. Moriarty and photographer Siah L. St. Clair, we have a Field Guide set close to home, A Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities. All of their selections are designed for learning about places within 40 miles of Minneapolis or St. Paul and located in the seven county area, perfect for taking nice day trips or short vacations close to home.
The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden were so very pleased to have the author, John J. Moriarty, present at our Annual Members Meeting on September 19, 2021. We really encourage members and other interested persons to locate a copy of this book, one title he has authored, or in the case of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage, an updated collaboration with Susan M. Galatowitsch and Rebecca A. Montgomery to John Tester’s 1995 work a significant 25 years after it originally appeared. According to Mark Seeley, local climatologist and meteorologist, the updated version makes clear that changes in Minnesota have been noticeable from lakes and rivers to landscapes like forests and prairies.
We’d like to give you a bit of a feel for Moriarity’s books as represented by the collaborators’ credentials on A Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities.
Its two collaborators possess some pretty specific local credentials that make them perfect for compiling this Field Guide, Moriarty as senior manager of wildlife for the Three Rivers Park District with St.Clair being the former director of Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley as well as serving on the Board of Directors of the Audubon Chapter in Minneapolis.
Moriarity takes on the written portion including a section about animals typically found in prairies or wetlands, for example. St. Clair adds photographs of animals and provides detailed maps throughout the book.
This Field Guide includes a comprehensive table of contents, an inclusive index, and lists of resources, both print and online. In the main parts of the book the reader will find two pages per place, one a map page followed by an information page explaining in brief what to see on this visit or just to learn about each site of this type. The two-page descriptions are divided into larger categories like savannahs or wetlands followed by basic information about animals that frequent this type of landscape. Within one page for each animal the reader is also treated to beautiful colored pictures captured by St. Clair.
The 412 pages of A Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities really amount to several guides rolled into one and truly show what rich environments are accessible so close to home, both well known like the Garden and ones you might never have heard of before.❖
Candy Bartol is a member and a Director of the Friends.
Review by Lauren Husting.
There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities by Ingrid Waldron.
Fernwood Publishing, 2018
There’s Something in the Water directed by Eliot Page & Ian Daniel. 2019; Netflix
In April 2021, when the Northern Metals Recycling Center caught fire and caused a short-term spike in contaminated air particles across the Northside and neighboring communities, I began to pay more careful attention to the environmental injustices prevalent in North Minneapolis. That led me to this book, and its subsequent documentary, about the history, politics, and effects of environmental racism on Indigenous and Black people. While Waldron’s text and Page’s documentary focus mainly on communities in Nova Scotia, Canada, the stories are all too familiar to the United States and Minnesota.
The film, directed by actor Elliot Page, consists mainly of interviews and tours of each community. The film’s focus is on the human impact business and environmental decisions have on the people around them. Near Shelbourne, the Black community has been devastated by cancer as residue from a closed dump nearby continues to leach into the water supply. In Boat Harbour, the effluent runoff from the paper mill has led to incalculable loss of resources and land coupled with pollution have decimated the Pictou Landing band and few live into their 50s. The Grassroots Grandmas, Mik’maq women fighting Alton Gas’s plan to drain salt caverns for oil storage into their sacred river, face persecution, arrest, and even death for standing up for their cause. All three stories stir intense emotions and bring to mind issues Minneapolis and Minnesota are dealing with concurrently.
Waldron’s book delves into much more detail on these communities and many others. She documents the concerns about health and quality of life to statistics about pollution levels in the water and air, and reveals the discrepancies that the Black and Indigenous people face when seeking reparation and remediation as opposed to largely white communities in similar situations. While an academic text, Waldron’s writing is concise and clear, easily accessible and engaging. She describes successful instances of environmental justice amid the catastrophes, and encourages the reader to extend their research into their own communities to join the fight.
With climate change feeling less and less manageable every day, and the fight for beloved lands and ecologies ongoing, both documentary and book remind us that there is also a human cost. Its overwhelming effects will continue to disproportionately affect Indigenous and communities of color, in North America and around the globe. Everything is connected, including our own human health and wellbeing.❖
Lauren Husting is a Friends Board and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee member.
New Directors elected at the September 19, 2021 Annual Meeting.
Candyce Bartol, Colin Bartol, Gary Bebeau, Steve Benson, Kathy Connelly, Lauren Husting, Jennifer Olson, Jim Proctor, Sally Pundt, Steve Pundt, J. Pam Weiner.
Elected as officers by the new Board of Directors:
Jennifer Olson, President; Candyce Bartol, Secretary; Gary Bebeau, Treasurer.
A gift in their honor can simply be a means of honoring a living person or some group
use this as an alternate type gift for a holiday, a birthday, an anniversary, etc. We will inform them of your gift, about the Friends and the Garden. Use the mail-in form or the credit card link on our website 'support us' page.
Susan Czapiewski - Sponsor
Dana Boyle - Sponsor
Membership information for
Joining the Friends
Renewing your membership
Can be found on our Website Support-Us page.
Information on paying by check or by credit card is found there also.
For changes to your mailing address or email address, please contact Membership Coordinator Christi Bystedt at this email address. or Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Membership, P.O. Box 3793, Minneapolis, MN55403-0793.
The Friends Board of Directors can use your talents! We are an all-volunteer board that meets several time per year and if you have an interest in the Wildflower Garden and in helping support it and our mission of educating the public about the Garden and the natural world get more details by sending an email to to our president.
Bennett Lauerey Bussellman from Gary & Nancy Bussellman.
for Frank Hansen from Brad & Christy Crary.
for Donette Johnson from Dora Schneider.
for Juanita Lussenhop from Ellen Peterson, Greta Swanson.
In honor of Bernie Tompkins from Sue Anderson, Floyd & Sue, Scott & Dorth, Brooks & Barb.
In honor of Mary McNerney from Elizabeth McNerney.
for Marcella B. Carter from Darryl Carter.
Donations Received in support of our programs
July 2021 to October 2021
Janet K. Anderson
Stewart Corn & Ellen Ferrari
Estee Lauder Companies
Kathy & Richard Fournier
David Harris & Ward Bauman
JoEllen Haugo & David Smith
Susan & Douglas Nevin
Consider a year-end gift to our program at the Garden.
We look forward to students coming back for field trips; to volunteers in the Shelter; and to new projects to support in the Garden. Go to our Support page to make a donation.
You can also support our program by buying one of these books for yourself or to give.
Do you have our Plant Identification Guide? The 3rd edition has 1,950 photos of the 787 flowering plants, trees and the ferns of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden including many that are of historic interest. Three hundred of these books have been sold, so why not get yours!
From a buyer in New Hampshire: What a terrific collection of photos. I’m sure this guide will be a great compliment to other guides I have. From Minnesota: I love the book and will cherish it for many years to come. Credit card order or use the mail order form, both on our website here.
©2021 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org.
Non-commercial reproduction of this material is allowed without prior permission but only with the acknowledgment to Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc., the author and the photographer.