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

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.

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A layer of green on an otherwise gray and brown backdrop is evidence of buckthorn’s distinctive phenology.
October: The season of the traveling embryo

A plant must move for its kind to survive.

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Of dishwashing & lacewings

Who knew creatures of night are fascinated by dishwashing?

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Monarchs aren't the only milkweed dwellers preparing for flight

While the best-known migratory insect may be monarch butterflies, another denizen of milkweed plants is also facing a long migration as fall approaches.

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Milkweed bug nymphs with black wing buds, found on whorled milkweed in late August in Dakota County. Once mature, this generation will fly south as food supplies dwindle.
Is it 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.

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June: Summer Solstice

Get ready, the day with the shortest night is approaching.

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May: Serviceberry

This large shrub is a great landscaping plant to attract birds.

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