Pale Corydalis in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Pale Corydalis in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Pale Corydalis, Corydalis sempervirens, is a native plant found in the northeastern half of Minnesota. This pink and yellow flower can be found in the BWCA, as this one was. This photo was taken in late July of 2012. During late summer, thin green seedpods are produced, which later turn brown and release seeds. In the photo below you can see that the seedpod has turned a light brown, but has not yet released seeds.   Pale Corydalis, also called Rock Harlequin, blooms in the spring and summer from May – September. It is a member of the Fumitory family (Fumariaceae), a family that also includes the charming plant Dutchman’s Breeches. This plant is not edible. It contains a narcotic alkaloid and can have a hallucinogenic effect when digested that can result in a slowed heart rate. Corydalis plants have been used historically as a sedative and painkiller, but this is not a recommended practice. It is best to just consider it a toxic plant. Pale Corydalis Habitat This plant can be found in dry, sunny areas and rocky, sandy soil. It prefers the cooler habitat of boreal forests and lake shores and is often found in rock outcroppings....

Early Morning in the BWCA

Some peaceful scenery. Sit back, relax, and imagine yourself into the...

Early Morning Fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Early morning fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We were catching rock bass after rock bass in shallow water using...

Bloodroot Uses and Interesting Facts

Bloodroot Uses and Interesting Facts

Bloodroot Facts Bloodroot is a member of the Poppy family (Papaveraceae) This is often one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, and are also one of the largest early flowers at 1.5 – 2 inches The flowers only bloom for a day or two Bloodroot flowers do not have nectar The seeds of the plant contain an elaiosome, which is a fleshy organ that attracts ants. The ants carry the seeds to their nest and eat the elaiosomes. The seeds remain in the nest debris, which usually makes an excellent growing medium. The process of the seeds of plants being spread by ants is called myrmecochory. Uses of Bloodroot Plants The reddish sap of the plant can be used as a natural dye. Native Americans used is as a dye for baskets, clothing, and war paint. Native Americans also used the sap from the rhizomes as insect repellant. Sanguinarine, a toxic extract from bloodroot, kills animal cells. Many published pre-clinical In Vitro and In Vivo studies recommend development of Sanguinarine as a potential treatment for cancer. Bloodroot was traditionally used by many Native Americans to treat fever and rheumatism. Is is, however, poisonous and is not recommended to be taken internally. An overdose of bloodroot extract can cause vomiting and loss of consciousness. Contact poison control if accidentally ingested (1-800-222-1222) It has been used commercially in toothpaste and mouthwash to fight plaque (please, do not try this on your own with bloodroot extract). Bloodroot extract is being studied as a dissolving agent for warts, and is currently used in the mole remover Dermatend. However, do not attempt to use bloodroot extract on your own for this purpose; it could disfigure your skin and the underlying tissue, as well as cause...

Clarity in BWCA Lakes – Water Quality in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Clarity in BWCA Lakes – Water Quality in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The Boundary Waters is renowned for its outstanding water quality. As you can see below, the water in BWCA lakes tends to be beautifully clear, allowing you to see the lake bottom when standing in shallow water even a couple of feet deep. Over time, lakes generally acquire more nutrients as sediment and organic matter, such as leaves, naturally enters the water body.  This will happen more quickly in areas with deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves regularly, as opposed to coniferous trees that lose their needles less frequently), or with excessive nutrient run-off, such as fertilized lakeshore properties. These nutrients  (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen) promote the growth of algae; the algae in turn die and decompose, as organic things tend to do. This process of decomposition uses oxygen, which makes it less available to other organisms in the deeper water, such as fish. Visually, you will notice that over time the water becomes less clear and more cloudy, often green. This process is called eutrophication. Eutrophic conditions impair the drinkability of water. In the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota, where water is relied on during camping and canoeing excursions, there is a volunteer BWCAW water quality monitoring program managed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. As you can imagine, through this program visitors to the BWCA volunteer to collect water samples from BWCA lakes while on their trips through the wilderness. Collecting this data is important because lakes in the BWCA are remote and not accessible by vehicle. If you would like to participate in the program, contact the MPCA at 800-657-3864. If available, a water quality testing kit will be sent to you for use during your trip.  Follow this link for more information on this...