Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes: Showy roadside plants

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 24, 2014 - 2:44 PM

It’s an education to travel highways and country roads where either spraying or severe cutting hasn’t destroyed the many roadside plants. In these areas, showy grasses and colorful blooming plants can be admired by those passing by. The plants also can be used by insects, birds and other wildlife as food sources, shelter and nesting sites.

Our family has a tradition of driving to Walker, Park Rapids and Itasca State Park from the Twin Cities area during the last part of July. We’ve had many opportunities to admire the flowering plants along the roads. Each trip we notice the birdsfoot trefoil, white sweet clover, big bluestem grass, tansy, swamp milkweed, black-eyed Susans and wild cucumber. Once we get near Walker, the fireweed and pearly everlasting are blooming nicely. All along the route we see both yellow and white water lily flowers in wetlands and along lakeshores.

While traveling by automobile, quick glimpses at passing plant life can add much enjoyment to a trip. Over the years I have learned to identify what some outdoor enthusiasts call “the 55 mile-per-hour plants.” If you are just learning to identify and appreciate wildflowers, I would recommend pulling over to the side of the road and stopping in a safe place every once in a while to admire, at a closer distance, some of Minnesota’s wildflowers. This will give you the chance to page through one of several well-illustrated wildflower manuals available to help identity any plants new to you.

Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Baltimore 1
Detroit 45 3rd Qtr
Charlotte 56
Philadelphia 42 3rd Qtr
Washington 65
San Antonio 64 3rd Qtr 7:06
Orlando 46
Indiana 32 2nd Qtr 2:55
Boston 41
Brooklyn 43 2nd Qtr 5:50
New York 41
Chicago 16 1st Qtr 4:14
Milwaukee 11
Dallas 18 1st Qtr 5:01
Oklahoma City 17
Sacramento 7 1st Qtr 6:15
Houston 16
Toronto 17 1st Qtr 4:51
Minnesota 20
Denver 8:00 PM
LA Clippers 9:00 PM
New Orleans 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 1 2nd Prd
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 0 1st Prd 12:06
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Colorado 9:30 PM
San Jose
Loyola-Chicago 11 1st Half 11:41
ULM 12
UCLA 58 2nd Half 7:00
Michigan 53
Temple 40 2nd Half 11:20
West Virginia 40
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question