It's an exciting time when the first prairie flowers bloom. Around here the most consistent and dependable flowers are the Golden Alexanders, Spiderwort, Beardtongue and Lupine.
My brother Tim texted me yesterday, April 26th, to say the Lupines were blooming which, to my mind, is the harbinger of the wildflower parade (though there are earlier odd blooming plants, the full-on display begins with the Lupine). I was a bit suspicious because the Lupines to the south of my house had not bloomed, or at least I didn't notice them. Surely enough, the ones near his house were in full bloom as of this morning, but the ones to the south of our house were not.
The above photos were both taken this morning. So how to explain the difference? The prairie with the blooming Lupines had been burned this spring, while ours had not (we just ran out of time; things had greened up too much by the time we could get to it). The difference between the blooming Lupines and the non-blooming ones highlights the difference burning makes for the native plants. I'll be curious to see when these unbloomed Lupines get around to blooming.
Of the many noteworthy things this year is the seeding of the Siberian Elms. Siberian Elms are an invasive species of tree from none other than Siberia (my theory is that just as the Russians seek to corrupt our politics with cyber warfare, they also seek to corrupt our ecology with the Siberian Elm. I have been emailing special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, to include this in his investigation of Russian meddling, but so far I have not heard back from him. I'll keep you posted on this).
Last year there was a late freeze which thwarted the seeding of the many trees, which means this year's trees are all the more determined to put out even more seeds.
This fuzzy, light-colored tree is a common site around central Minnesota this Memorial Day weekend. This Siberian Elm looks dead, but it's actually laden with seeds. Indeed, upon a closer look, there is hardly any foliage on the tree. It has put all--and I mean all--its energy into producing seed. The result: an invasive species. Though it looks innocuous, a closer look will reveal how successful this species is.
After taking that photo, I turned around to take this one. All the trees you see in this photo, including the smaller ones in the foreground, are Siberian Elms. Without management, the Siberian Elm and Buckthorn will take over disturbed sites and woodlands.
Many of the sites we are restoring have Siberian Elms next to them, and we've been either cutting them down ourselves or trying to get our future prairie managers to do the same, with mixed results. It's hard to appreciate how difficult it is to control this invasive species.
I took this photo this morning. It is a Siberian Elm in the prairie to the south of our house. It is the result of a tree that we cut down over ten years ago, and yet I'm still dealing with its seeds. This little guy has survived many burns and still persists. The only way to get rid of it is to cut it and spray the stump right away. So, do your part to stop Russian meddling: cut and spray your Siberian Elms before it's too late!