Monthly Archives: June 2022

Apple Blossom Overlook Park

Apple Blossom Overlook Park
Photo by Greg Watson

Apple Blossom Overlook Park is a Winona County park located three miles north of downtown La Crescent, MN on Apple Blossom Drive Scenic Byway. Its 55 acres includes a ridge top overlooking the Upper Mississippi River Valley 580 feet below. A 1.3 mile loop trail has a spur that leads to a spectacular overlook on a narrow promontory. The trail is wide, grassy, and well maintained. It passes through new and old growth hardwood forest, two newly established prairies, and a few small areas of remnant prairie, and by rock outcroppings, steep cliffs, and an historic stone quarry. The park also includes a small depression that is sometimes a small pond but at other times just a wetland.

Say “Goodbye” to an old friend and “Hello” to a new group

Golden Chanterelle
Golden Chanterelle

Until very recently, yellow to yellowish-orange chanterelles in North American hardwood forests were all treated as a single, easily identified species, Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius). Recent DNA analysis shows that the North American chanterelles are a group of closely related species now known as the Cantharellus cibarius group. The type species of the group, Cantharellus cibarius, is restricted to Europe and does not occur in North America. To date (2022), several new species have been defined, four of them occurring only west of the Rocky Mountains. More species east of the Rockies will almost certainly be described in the coming years.

Springtails (Hypogastrura spp.)

springtails (Hypogastrura spp.)
Photo by Luciearl

Hypogastrura is a genus of springtails. They are sometimes called snow fleas, but this common name is properly applied to just one species, Hypogastrura nivicola. There are at least 159 Hypogastrura species worldwide, at least 89 species in North America, and at least 1 species in Minnesota. They are found in moist areas rich in organic matter. They often appear in in very large numbers.

Hypogastrura springtail has a plump, elongated oval body. It is bluish-black but appears black when viewed against a light background. The legs and antennae are short. Identifying a springtail to the genus Hypogastrura is relatively simple, but identifying one to the species is extremely difficult. It requires microscopic examination of the hairs on the last leg segment.