Woody Plants- Beyond the Pretty Colors
Thinking back to ecology class –food webs, herbivores, woody plants, and insects – and our goals in ecological restoration.
How often do you pause and think about the green around us? The amazingly beautiful trees, shrubs and diverse ground covers are really the lifeblood of the Earth. We were taught this in elementary school, but now we are so busy, we just don’t give it much thought. It is so easy to take plants for granted, we seldom acknowledge the full extent to which they benefit and provide us with life. Way back, we learned that plants produce the oxygen that we need to breathe and most often produce the critical foundations for entire food webs.

In an ecological community, organisms evolve and develop relationships that allow for the exchange of energy. These relationships allow organisms incapable of photosynthesis, to access energy from the sun. Plants occupy the first step or “trophic level” of the food web.  

Pollinator/Insect of the Month!
Rusty Patched Bumble bee
( Bombus affinis )

The rusty patched bumblebee is Minnesota's State bee. They are also listed as an Endangered Species because once a commonly observed bee, they are no longer found in much of their historic range. They are a larger sized bee with a black face and legs. They also have black hairs on their thorax in the shape of a thumb-tack. The rusty patch they are named for can range from a light brown to a bright orange. It is found on the 2nd segment of the abdomen, surrounded by yellow hairs. It can be hard to distinguish from other bumblebee species like the tri-colored or brown-belted bumblebees. If you think you have seen a rusty patched, confirm your sighting by sending pictures to bumblebeewatch.org Want to help the rusty patched? Some of their favorite native plants they visit are New England aster, purple prairie clover, anise hyssop, and many others!
Retail Nursery News!

Our Retail Nursery is closed for the season but our plants are still available!

Call or email our Greenhouse Manager Jill for plant orders.


For more information:
Non-native Species of the Month- Siberian Peashrub
( Caragana arborescens)

Siberian peashrub is a woody shrub or tree that was originally planted as an ornamental windbreak or for food for wildlife. It is native to Asia and blooms from May to June. It grows between 6-18 feet, prefers full sun or partial shade, and can easily grow in a wide range of soil conditions. It has yellow pea-shaped flowers and compound leaves with 8-12 leaflets. The flowers mature into seedpods that look like 2 inch long beans. They split open and shoot their seeds away from the parent. These shrubs can become very aggressive and should be removed.

Native Plant of the Month-
False Indigo
( Amorpha fruticosa )

Just like Siberian peashrub, this shrub is in the pea family, but native to Minnesota. It grows extremely well along shorelines, helping to hold soils together and prevent erosion. False Indigo is also commonly used as a windbreak. It has spikes of distinctive purple flowers with yellow anthers. These fragrant flowers attract many different pollinator species. It grows about 3-10 feet tall and blooms from June-July. Their leaves grow in groups that alternate along the stem and have oval-shaped leaflets. It is also the larval host plant to several native butterflies and moths including the silver-spotted skipper and the southern dogface.
Five Plants For...Planting under Trees!
Want to fill in some areas under your trees or shrubs? These plants can handle large amounts of shade, lower levels of water, and poor soils from pine needles.
Mystery Plant of the Month!
This month's Mystery Plant is another native plant that can be planted under trees. It also is a beautiful fall bloomer for pollinators! Do you have a guess?

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