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From common to rare
Some members are on very specific horticultural missions, such as seeking a particular wildflower, Lynch said. “But if you just want to walk your dog, that’s fine, too.”
Members’ wanderings have led to some rare finds.
Holm and her husband joined the Lynches for a hike through a Minnetonka bog. “We saw some orchids, some wild cranberries and a rare butterfly, the bog copper, that didn’t even have a county record,” she said. “That trip yielded that discovery.”
Last year, Lynch spotted a rare prairie fringed orchid, an endangered species he found growing at Blue Mound State Park near Luverne, Minn., where he stopped while en route to a family reunion in Nebraska.
But mostly he’s not hunting for rare species. “I’m more of the type to just go out and see what’s there. I’m looking to find neat native plants and habitat.”
On a recent Sunday morning, the Lynches headed to the Lost Valley Prairie SNA (scientific and nature area) near Cottage Grove, a remnant of what the prairie used to look like before development. Limestone knobs made the area unsuitable for farming, so it was left undisturbed, Lynch said. “This shouldn’t be rare. These natural areas are protecting something worthwhile. I want to preserve the unique features that make Minnesota Minnesota, instead of a weird global meadow of invasives.”
During a 90-minute hike, Lynch was able to identify every plant in sight. “That’s a lead plant,” he said. “That’s a sign of a high-quality prairie. Cattle love this stuff.”
He pointed out a prairie turnip. “The Native Americans ate it as a root vegetable. It has a deep taproot, like a yam.”
He picked up a long stiletto-like plant. “Needle grass. It has a razor-sharp needle. You can suture a wound with them. They plant themselves, drilling their seed into the soil.”
And, like a true plant geek, he even knows all their Latin names. “I think of them in Latin,” he said. “But when I use Latin, people glaze over.”
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784