Author: Ethan Perry
On Saturday, August 28, Arrowhead Native Plant Explorers held our first annual Plant Foray. The Forays are intended to provide the Olga Lakela Herbarium at UMD with fresh plant specimens for educational and research purposes. The morning showers ended, but our feet certainly got wet as we headed into the Blue Dasher Bog. Blue Dasher is one of the preserves owned by Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog in the extensive lowlands west of Cotton. Rubin Stenseng, who is on the board of both ANPE and FOSZB, welcomed us to the preserve. After following the trail through the shaded black spruce bog, we emerged into the open floating fen on the shore of East Stone Lake.
Gretchen Meier, curator of the herbarium, instructed us in proper plant collection techniques, and we split into 2 groups. Each group explored a different portion of the fen, one closer to the spruce bog, one closer to the shore. The mat of Sphagnum moss started out fairly firm, with patches of leatherleaf shrubs, but became more treacherous near the lake edge. The relatively nutrient-rich lakewater also allowed a greater diversity of plants to line the shore.
Participants collected plants with flowers or fruits, carefully extricating as much of the roots as possible from the tangle of roots in the peat. We stored them in large plastic bags, noting the location where we found them. After an hour or so, we took our bounty a half mile down the road to the boat landing to take advantage of the picnic shelters there.
Gretchen then showed us how to press our collections between newspaper sheets and blotter paper in plant presses. The most difficult were large plants with thick roots such as cattails and shrubs. We quickly filled 3 presses with future museum specimens. They will dry out in the coming weeks, and in winter we will meet again to mount them on herbarium sheets. This event will be similar to the mounting event we held last winter, but this time with plants we collected ourselves.