Prairie parkland landscapes are at their peak golden color now. The fall landscape is transforming daily, and with the nice fall weather lately, it’s a glorious time to be out walking around. I’ve given up trying to find the migrating birds at this points and am just enjoying the golden colors everywhere.
After four days of the white stuff raining down on us, I need a shot of color from the brilliant hues of this past Fall season.
One way to ensure seed set in a plant is to capture as many pollinators as possible, and this seems to be the strategy influencing the flowering times of Goldenrod and Aster species. By blooming so late in the summer and early fall, they are pretty much the only pollen and nectar sources around.
And to ensure that bees do visit their copious numbers of flowers, the plants need to advertise themselves with the colors that are most attractive to bee eyes — yellow-green and blue-purple. Bees also key in on light that is a combination of yellow and ultra-violet, something humans can’t detect, but probably marks landing platforms or serves as nectar guides on flowers.
You might wonder, what’s a fen? It is a type of wetland, but different from most because it is fed by mineral-rich ground water, which makes the soil pH mostly neutral to alkaline, compared to the acidity of bogs. Seasonal changes in water levels and peat build-up mean that plant (and animal) distributions can be quite clumped, depending on soil moisture and nutrients.
Fens can be dominated by marshy meadows of grasses with clumps of perennial forbs scattered about,
but prone to invasion of woody vegetation, especially where the soil is drier.
With so much plant diversity in this area, there were quite a few pollinators out. I saw more butterflies and bees than any other place I have been this summer.
This little acreage in the middle of the Blaine, MN suburbia is definitely worth a second (or third) visit. It has just recently been acquired by the state Department of Natural Resources and designated a Scientific and Natural Area (SNA).