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December Article
  A New Winter Adventure?

The conditions are perfect: temperatures have finally dipped below freezing, an Alberta Clipper is barreling down from Canada, and you have a free day to explore. There is really something magical about a fresh coat of fluffy, glistening snow in Minnesota. The landscape is transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. Some take to skiing, or sledding, or drilling holes in the ice and wetting a line. Next time you have a few hours to discover, throw on your boots or skis and go on a plant identification adventure! Not sure where to begin with identification in the winter months?  Here is a winter guide to get you started:

Native plants can add interest to your landscape even when they are done blooming. Their seed heads often have fascinating shapes and textures throughout the winter season. They also attract birds that are hungry for a winter meal! Here are a few flower heads you might see in your restoration or in other natural areas this winter season:


1. Bergamot 
( Monarda fistulosa )- Light colored balls full of seed for hungry birds.

2. Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)- Small, grey colored heads that smell strongly of mint.

3. Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida)- Seed heads are dark brown and often visited by goldfinches for seeds hidden in the sharp husks.

 4. Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)- Long, light brown seed heads that smell like black licorice.

5. Prairie Onion (Allium stellatum)- Balls that look like ornaments on the top of the plant's stem, they have black seeds that birds love!

6. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)- Seed pods with remnant white seed fluff that catch the snow.

7. Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium)- Small, spikey balls on branching stems.

8. Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)- Soft and fluffy gray seed heads that branch out from the plant's base.

Native grasses are especially beautiful during the winter months. Their stalks turn gorgeous red and tan colors that contrast brilliantly with the white landscape. Here are a few native prairie grasses that are remarkably attractive in the winter. Remember to look closely, you might also see some wildlife using the grass patches for winter shelter!


1. Side-Oats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)- Delicate grains of seed dangle from their wavy stems

2. Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)- Striking red, copper, and gold colored grasses with small silver seed heads.

3. Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)- Soft feathery plumes of red and gold drape over the snow.

4. Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis)- Drooping grass heads that are light brown and blow gently in the wind.

5. Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)-  Tan grass with small round seeds for critters to enjoy.

6. Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)- Often called turkey foot for the shape of its seed head, this grass is bluish gray.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Natural Shore! We hope you can get outside this winter season to appreciate the beauty of our native landscapes! See how many native plant species you can identify in the snow!

Native Plant of the Month
Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Moisture: Wet or Moist
Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Color: Red
Bloom: July to September
Height: 2-4 Feet

Cardinal flower is a striking wetland forb that blooms bright red from July to September. This plant prefers "wet feet"- it does best in wetlands, shorelands, and in the basins of rain gardens. It attracts hummingbirds, orioles, butterflies and other insects. Hummingbirds pollinate this plant. It is not long lived, so collect seeds in the fall and spread them in wet areas in order to establish more plants. 
Invasive Plant of the Month
Narrow-leaf Bittercress
Cardamine impatiens

Moisture: Moist or Dry
Exposure:  Full or Partial Shade
Color: White/Pale Green
Blooms: May to July
Height: 0.5-2 Feet

This is an early detection weed, meaning that it is a new species to Minnesota and hasn't had a lot of time to spread yet. It is originally from Europe and distributes quickly from seed, forming dense infestations. It has a rosette the first year and forms a stem with flowers its second year. The first year rosette leaves are small, lobed, and hairless. The second year leaves are longer and shaped more like an arrow. Flowers are small, whitish green, and develop into seed pods that shoot seed into the surrounding area when they burst open at maturity. Management strategies include hand pulling and select broadleaf herbicide treatments. Make sure to remove small stands quickly before they develop into a bigger problem. 

Native plant alternatives include  White Prairie Clover or Prairie Coreopsis!
Pollinator of the Month
Eastern Bumblebee
Bombus impatiens

Range : Eastern North America 
Habitat : A variety of urban and rural areas
Identification : Males and workers are smaller than the queens (queens are about 17-22 mm). Legs and head are black. Hairs on thorax are shaggy and a light yellow. Hairs on the abdomen are black. 

Pollination : The Eastern Bumble Bee visits many different species of native and non-native plants. Native plants this species visits include Joe Pye Weed, Boneset, various Goldenrod species, Anise Hyssop, Milkweed species, Aster species, Harebell, Coreopsis, Rattlesnake Master, Wild Geranium, Sneezeweed, Oxeye, Liatris species, Purple Prairie Clover, and many more!
December 2017 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Our retail nursery is currently closed. But will reopen spring 2018! Thank you for visiting us this season!

Our retail nursery address is:
1480 County Rd. 90  Independence MN 55359

Have any questions? Contact our greenhouse manager Jill at

Click and visit our website for current
Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
Upcoming Events
Come visit us at these events!

Northern Green Expo
Jan. 2-4 at the Convention Center in Minneapolis

Jan. 23-25
Double Tree Park Place in Minneapolis

Univ. of Minn. CFANS Envir. Internship and Career Fair
Feb. 7
St. Paul Campus

2018 Pollinator Best Practices Summit
Pollinator Friendly Alliance
Feb. 8
Silverwood Park
St. Anthony

2018 Wild Ones Design with Nature Conference
Feb 18
Anderson Student Center
Univ. of St. Thomas
5 Plants For...
Salt Tolerant

During the winter a lot of salt gets spread on our roads and sidewalks. Here are some native plants that can be planted in areas whose soils  accumulate salt.

1. Purple Prairie Clover
( Dalea purpurea)

2. Gray-headed Coneflower
( Ratibida pinnata)

3. Canada Wild Rye
( Elymus canadensis)

4. Little Bluestem
( Schizachyrium scoparium)

5. Black Eyed Susan
( Rudbeckia hirta)

 Want to learn more about these native plants? Click Here to visit our website!