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Alex Roth

The green amidst the gray: the distinctive phenology of non-native shrubs

A layer of green on an otherwise gray and brown backdrop is evidence of buckthorn’s distinctive phenology.

A layer of green on an otherwise gray and brown backdrop is evidence of buckthorn’s distinctive phenology.

It’s finally (or already!) November and the leaves have fallen from the trees. Well, not quite all of them. If you take a close look at a nearby forest, you’ll likely notice a dense layer of green still present in the shrub layer. What are these shrubs and why are they still green when other species have all dropped their leaves? In and around the Twin Cities, it’s a good bet that these shrubs are either common buckthorn or one of a few species of bush honeysuckles, and their “distinctive phenology” actually plays a large part in their success in Minnesota’s forest ecosystems.

November 9

Restoring a blank slate at Houlton Farm

The Mississippi River runs along the southern edge of the Houlton Farm property, and the islands of the Mississippi River Islands SNA (left) already provide important protected habitat in the area.
The Mississippi River runs along the southern edge of the Houlton Farm property, and the islands of the Mississippi River Islands SNA (left) already provide important protected habitat in the area.

FMR ecologist Alex Roth is knee-deep into writing the Natural Resources Management Plan at Houlton Farm in Elk River. The property presents a variety of challenges, but is an incredible opportunity to conduct large-scale habitat restoration.

August 17

July: Goldenrod or ragweed?

Many people suffer from allergies during mid to late summer, but few know exactly what causes them. Folks usually chalk these allergies up to hay fever, and rightly so, but are all plants to blame? Goldenrod, a prolific flowering plant with masses of golden flowers, is often mistakenly blamed for causing the itchy eyes, runny nose and other symptoms that many of us suffer from. However, for most of us, ragweed is the true culprit.

July 20

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