Photo by Kirk Nelson
Lilydale Regional Park lies on the south bank of the Mississippi River south of St. Paul. Its 286 acres of river bottom forest are prone to flooding in the spring. It is this seasonal flooding that eventually convinced the residents of the town of Lilydale, established in 1896, to relocate to the top of the bluff. The presence of spruces and lilacs among the usual floodplain trees testifies to the areas urban past. In the summer, lily pads dot the surface of Pickerel Lake.
Lilydale Regional Park is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA). MNRRA, pronounced “minnra”, is a partnership park, a new and unique kind of national park. It is a 72-mile, 53,775 acre corridor along the Mississippi River stretching from Weigh Station Highway Park on US Highway 10 in Ramsey to the Dakota County/Goodhue County border. Only two small parcels are owned by the National Park Service.
Maryland black snakeroot (Sanicula marilandica) is a very common and widespread perennial herb. It is found throughout Minnesota in moist woodlands, at marsh edges, and along river banks. From June to August it produces small clusters of tiny flowers. In late summer the flowers are replaced by seed capsules that are covered with hooked bristles which cling to the fur of passing animals and the legs of passing hikers.
There are five species of black snakeroot, four of which are found in Minnesota. Careful examination of multiple features is required to tell them apart. Maryland black snakeroot is distinguished by basal and lower stem leaves with 7 divisions; flower clusters with 12 to 25 flowers, always including both long-stalked male flowers and a few stalkless flowers with both male and female parts; sepals as long or nearly as long as the petals, and greenish-white flower petals.
During the last ice age eleven thousand years ago the Laurentide Ice Sheet covered all of what is now Minnesota except for the driftless area in the southeast and the inner coteau in the southwest. As the glacier retreated, meltwater flowing off of the Des Moines Lobe formed Glacial Lake Agassiz. The lake drained to the southeast through Glacial River Warren. Where it flowed through this part of Redwood County the river was over 1½ miles wide and covered almost all of this SNA. Only three tiny islands remained above water. On March 15, 2005, 317 acres of prairie, oak woodland, and floodplain forest in Redwood County was designated Cedar Mountain Scientific and Natural Area.
The northernmost part of the SNA is in the Mississippi River floodplain. It contains a silver maple floodplain forest and two shallow lakes. South of the lakes, at the western edge of the SNA, trees and shrubs have been removed to establish a rock outcrop prairie. South of the floodplain forest is a mature basswood-bur oak forest and a sliver of dry, rock outcrop prairie. The three islands in the River Warren are now knobs of bedrock outcrop in this section. The knobs contain unique rock types and rare plant species. The lower, middle section of the SNA is mostly mesic prairie and a very small rock outcrop prairie. The south section is more basswood bur-oak forest. Wabash Creek separates this section from 320th Street on the south border of the SNA.
Visitors to Cedar Mountain SNA this week (early June) will see in bloom abundant golden alexanders and, less conspicuous but almost equally abundant, long-leaved bluet.
- Photo by Ed Oliveras
The tight clusters or orange, dandelion-like flowers at the end of a leafless stem make orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) an easily recognized plant. A native to northern and central Europe, it was introduced as an ornamental to Vermont before 1875. It has escaped cultivation many times and is now naturalized across the northern half of North America. It occurs in a wide variety of habitats and is especially suited to disturbed sites.
Orange hawkweed can form dense mats and crowd out native species. It is one of the six known pollen allelopathic plants. Pollen allelopathy occurs when the pollen of one species is transferred to another species. The transferred pollen then releases toxins which interfere with the growth of pollen tubes, the receptivity of the stigma or style, respiration, germination or growth of the seedling, production of chlorophyll in leaves, or production of seeds.
Though not controlled by the state, orange hawkweed is considered a noxious weed in Carlton, Cass, Itasca, and Koochiching Counties.