Morton Outcrops SNA






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Minnesota DNR








This site was designated a Scientific and Natural Area on June 27, 2011.












Detail map (MN DNR)


Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates

  Printable map      



15 acres




Ask permission at the BP station then park on the gravel drive/lot west of the site.

N44 32.991, W94 59.484


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

Get driving directions from Google Maps to this destination from any address, and send those directions to your phone.

          Renville County  
          Central Minnesota  

Hiking Trails


A short trail leads from the Hambdecka Trail sign to the nearest rock outcrop. The sign asks visitors to stay on the trail. However, the trail disappears at the first rock outcrop. There are no maintained trails.




No hunting


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Prairie Parkland Province

  Ecological Section    

North Central Glaciated Plains

  Ecological Subsection    

Minnesota River Prairie

  Land Type Association    

Gibbon Till Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype

  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      

Natural Features








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    Morton Outcrops SNA   Morton Outcrops SNA  

Sacred Site

    Morton Outcrops SNA      


    Morton Outcrops SNA   Morton Outcrops SNA  
    Morton Outcrops SNA      

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype

    Morton Outcrops SNA   Morton Outcrops SNA  



  Morton Outcrops Scientific and Natural Area
  Morton Outcrops Scientific and Natural Area  

Photos in this album are from Morton Outcrops Scientific and Natural Area in Renville County in south-central Minnesota. This magnificent SNA is an outcrop of 3.5-billion-year old Morton Gneiss, some of the oldest exposed rock on our planet. It harbors many interesting plants, some of them very rare, and some of them at the extreme limits of their distributions.

  Morton Outcrops
Joshua Mayer
  Morton Outcrops  
  Morton Outcrops SNA
  Morton Outcrops SNA  

Morton Outcrop SNA is on a massive, high bedrock knob along the Minnesota River that contains one of the best examples of specialized plants adapted to rock outcrop remaining in Minnesota. Between 150 and 200 species of plants occur in these small areas. Seven rare plant and animal species have been documented in the area including the federally threatened prairie bush clover and the state endangered lichen Buellia nigra. This is the locality from which the rock type "Morton Gneiss" was first described. It is one of the oldest known rocks in the world, originating roughly 3.6 billion years ago.




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Visitor Sightings

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American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)


American Robin

Brown-headed Cowbird


Fungi and Lichens


One fungi and lichen species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:


Black Disc Lichen (Buellia nigra)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Lichens List


Crown Rust (Puccinia coronata)

Leaf Curl (Taphrina communis)

  Crown Rust  

Insects and Arachnids


Two insect and arachnid species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:

Special Concern

Iowa skipper (Atrytone arogos iowa)

regal fritillary (Argynnis idalia)


eastern tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma americanum)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

plum finger gall mite (Eriophyes emarginatae)

question mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

spring field cricket (Gryllus veletis)

twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella)


finger gall of plum finger gall mite

question mark




Three plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


Wolf’s spikerush (Eleocharis wolfii)


one-flowered broomrape (Orobanche uniflora)

prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Crystalline Bedrock Outcrop (Prairie): Minnesota River Subtype ROs12a1



American plum (Prunus americana)

American vetch (Vicia americana)

bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata ssp. umbellata)

bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bracted spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata)

brittle prickly pear (Opuntia fragilis)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

common cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis ssp. matronalis)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana)

field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense)

field sagewort (Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata)

giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

June grass (Koeleria macrantha)

late goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

long-leaved bluet (Houstonia longifolia)

narrow-leaved purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

northern bedstraw (Galium boreale)

Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus)

plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides ssp. acanthoides)

prairie alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii)

prairie blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre)

prairie peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

purple meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)

quackgrass (Elymus repens)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

rock spikemoss (Selaginella rupestris)

rough false pennyroyal (Hedeoma hispida)

round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata)

silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

smooth rose (Rosa blanda var. blanda)

smooth Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

starry false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellatum)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida)

tall cinquefoil (Drymocallis arguta)

Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea)

western rock jasmine (Androsace occidentalis)

western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)

white clover (Trifolium repens ssp. repens)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

woolly plantain (Plantago patagonica)

yellow star grass (Hypoxis hirsuta)

yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)


Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Acer saccharinum (silver maple)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)

Androsace occidentalis (western rock jasmine)

Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata (field sagewort)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Carduus acanthoides (plumeless thistle)

Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)

Comandra umbellata ssp. umbellata (bastard toadflax)

Drymocallis arguta (tall cinquefoil)

Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower)

Elymus repens (quackgrass)

Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus (Philadelphia fleabane)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Galium boreale (northern bedstraw)

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy)

Hedeoma hispida (rough false pennyroyal)

Hesperis matronalis ssp. matronalis (dame’s rocket)

Heuchera richardsonii (prairie alumroot)

Houstonia longifolia (long-leaved bluet)

Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow star grass)

Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Koeleria macrantha (June grass)

Lepidium densiflorum (prairie peppergrass)

Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)

Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian honeysuckle)

Maianthemum stellatum (starry false Solomon’s seal)

Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)

Opuntia fragilis (brittle prickly pear)

Oxalis violacea (violet wood sorrel)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Plantago patagonica (woolly plantain)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum (smooth Solomon’s seal)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

Rosa blanda var. blanda (smooth rose)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Selaginella rupestris (rock spikemoss)

Sisyrinchium campestre (prairie blue-eyed grass)

Solidago altissima (late goldenrod)

Solidago rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Thalictrum dasycarpum (purple meadow-rue)

Thlaspi arvense (field pennycress)

Toxicodendron rydbergii (western poison ivy)

Tradescantia bracteata (bracted spiderwort)

Trifolium repens ssp. repens (white clover)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Vicia americana (American vetch)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)


American plum

bracted spiderwort

brittle prickly pear


common mullein

common yarrow

field sagewort

narrow-leaved purple coneflower

northern bedstraw

plumeless thistle

round-headed bush clover

smooth sumac

tall cinquefoil

violet wood sorrel

wild grape

yellow sweet clover







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