Minnesota Plants

           
Subkingdom Embryophyta

Embryophyta (land plants) is a subkingdom of the kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants). Embryophytes are distinguished by having a life cycle that involves alternation of generations the ability to live on land. They include vascular plants, which are those organisms traditionally thought of as plants, as well as non-vascular plants, which include mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.

According to one estimate, there are 311,078 embryophyte species worldwide.

 

Rarity Status Update
   

On August 19, 2013, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released an updated list of endangered, threatened, and special concern species. (Two years later the DNR has still not updated the online interactive Rare Species Guide.) This is the first official update since 1996. Twenty-nine species were removed from the list, 180 species were added, and 91 species had their status changed. Species pages, destination pages, and plant lists on MinnesotaSeasons.com have updated with the new listings. The complete list can be downloaded in PDF format from the Minnesota DNR’s Rare Species Guide Web page.

Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), pictured at right, has been added to the list. Previously unlisted, the tree is now a special concern species.

  swamp white oak
  swamp white oak
   
 

Distribution Maps
 

Range Map

red mulberry
USDA PLANTS Database

 

 

Range Map

red mulberry
MinnesotaSeasons.com

Plant occurrence data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (PLANTS Database) includes only locations where a specimen has been collected by an herbarium. Rare species location data published by the Minnesota DNR is similarly constrained. Online sources of distribution data for plants in Minnesota rely on these two authorities. This results in published plant ranges that may be representative but are of necessity incomplete.

The distribution maps on MinnesotaSeasons.com are derived from multiple sources. Each map is accompanied with links indicating which sources were used in creating the map. Those sources include University of Minnesota Bell Herbarium, USDA PLANTS Database, and the Minnesota DNR Rare Species Guide. However, they also include online databases, such as the Minnesota State checklist of vascular plants (MnTaxa); Biota of North America Program (BONAP); and Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS); and print resources, such as Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota and Native Orchids of Minnesota, both by Welby R. Smith; and Vascular Plants of Minnesota by Ownbey and Morley. The maps also include sightings by MinnesotaSeasons.com, and sightings by contributors to MinnesotaSeasons.com that have been verified by the inclusion of a photo sufficient to identify the species.

The distribution maps at the right show the occurrence of red mulberry in Minnesota as reported by PLANTS and by MinnesotaSeasons.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

Recent Additions

 
Small white lady’s slipper
   

Many species of orchids are found in Minnesota prairies, but only three are prairie specialists: western prairie fringed orchid, Great Plains ladies’ tresses, and small white lady’s slipper. They all occur in lime-rich sediments deposited by glaciers and in clay-rich soils of glacial lake beds.

Small white lady’s slipper (Cypripedium candidum) is widely scattered but uncommon across the Great Lakes states to the Dakotas and adjacent Canadian provinces. Minnesota is the core area of the species and may have more individual plants than all other states and provinces combined. It is found in relatively undisturbed, high-quality prairies in the western, southern, and metro regions of the state.

Small white lady’s slipper produces small flowers that are easily overlooked. The best time to see it in bloom is … right now, the last week of May in southern Minnesota and the first or second week of June in the north.

  small white lady’s slipper

Bell’s honeysuckle
   

There are six Asian bush honeysuckles that have been introduced into North America and are now naturalized here. Three of these, Bell’s, Morrow’s, and Tartarian honeysuckle, are found in Minnesota. A fourth, Amur honeysuckle, has spread to Wisconsin and Iowa and will probably reach Minnesota soon.

In the past, Bell’s honeysuckle (Lonicera x bella) was widely planted in eastern and mid-western North America, including Minnesota, to control erosion and as an ornamental. It has since spread aggressively to a broad range of natural and semi-natural habitats. It leafs out early in the spring, grows vigorously and large, crowds other plants, shades the ground, and uses available soil moisture and nutrients. It may also release a chemical into the soil that further inhibits the growth of other species.

Bell’s honeysuckle is a horticultural cultivated fertile hybrid of Morrow’s honeysuckle and Tartarian honeysuckle. As a hybrid, it shares characteristics of both of its parents, and is difficult to distinguish from them. Bell’s honeysuckle is identified by its leaves, which are sparsely to moderately hairy on the underside, at least along the main veins; and by the minute bractlets at the base of each flower, which are at least half as long as the ovary which they subtend.

  Bell’s honeysuckle

American spurred gentian
   

There are about 75 species of spurred gentian (genus Helenia) worldwide. Only two occur in North America north of Mexico. Only one, American spurred gentian (Halenia deflexa ssp. deflexa), is found in Minnesota.

American spurred gentian is an often overlooked member of the Gentianaceae (gentian) family. Its flowers are much smaller and less showy than the more common bottle, pleated, and fringed gentians. It blooms in northern Minnesota under partial shade in moist coniferous forests (especially at the edges), cedar swamps, and bogs, and on river banks. It is often encountered on woodland trails that are wide enough to allow some sunlight to filter through.

From July to August American spurred gentian produces clusters of green to yellowish, often purplish-tinged flowers. The flowers have four petals, each of which has a long, downward-pointing spur at the base. There are no similar species in Minnesota.

  American spurred gentian

Louisiana bladderpod
   

There are at least 78 species of bladderpod (genus Physaria) recognized in North America. Most of them are restricted to western United States. Only Louisiana bladderpod (Physaria ludoviciana) is found in Minnesota. The natural range of this plant is from Montana and North Dakota, south to New Mexico and Arizona, and north to Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In Minnesota it is found in full sun growing on sandy soil on steep, south-facing, weathered, dolomitic sandstone bluffs. Spring Creek Prairie SNA has one of the largest known populations. Most of the other populations are within the city limits of Redwing.

Louisiana bladderpod is is common in its natural range but is classified as endangered in Minnesota and Illinois, threatened in Wisconsin. The few known populations in Minnesota may have been transplanted by a seed dropped by a bird, or may have survived from a time when the central plains extended into the area long ago.

Louisiana bladderpod is identified by its narrow, unlobed leaves forming a basal rosette; yellow flowers; and inflated, hairy, more or less globe-shaped fruit. There are no similar species in Minnesota.

  Louisiana bladderpod

Marsh skullcap
   

Marsh skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata) is a common and widespread plant in wetlands across North America. It is found throughout Minnesota in wet meadows, marshes, bogs, fens, swamps, stream banks, pond edges, and roadside ditches. It is often overlooked as its weak stems lean against nearby plants and its blue flowers, though showy, appear sparsely.

There are five skullcap species in Minnesota. Marsh skullcap is distinguished by its leaves which are narrow, no more than ¾ wide, shallowly round-toothed, very short stalked or stalkless, and pinnately veined with lateral veins that branch and rejoin before reaching the margin; flowers more than ½ long rising from leaf axils but not at the end of the stem; and its preference for wetlands.

  marsh skullcap

Other Recent Additions
   

Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra var. glabra)

London planetree (Platanus × hispanica)

long-leaved bluet (Houstonia longifolia)

bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Maryland black snakeroot (Sanicula marilandica)

  Maryland black snakeroot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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