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Natural Connections

Jun 30, 2022

“Can’t you smell that?” asked Cade from the bow of the canoe. A warm breeze tickled the back of my neck and blew any odors away from me. He’d brought up a small piece of an aquatic plant with a similar structure to the bladderwort leaves I’ve examined recently. The central, green stem bore whorls of thin...

Jun 23, 2022

“Oh!” I exclaimed happily, as a submerged plant caught my eye. Its thin, branching, bottle-brush leaves looked somewhat similar to coontail or even watermilfoil, but I knew better. “Bladderwort!” I exclaimed. I’ve written about this carnivorous plant with yellow snapdragon-like flowers before.

Pulling up the...

Jun 16, 2022

Off the cuff, many folks would tell you that the white fluff flying on the breeze this time of year is from cottonwood. The thing is, Eastern cottonwood—Populus deltoides—is pretty rare in the northern third of Wisconsin. But, as it turns out, the white fuzz is a family trait, and local relatives abound.

Jun 9, 2022

Columnist’s Note: Anne Torrey, of Gordon, WI, participated in a Natural Connections Writing Workshop I led last fall, and is continuing to hone her craft. I hope you enjoy her unique account of witnessing a common event—the drumming of the ruffed grouse. While the first drumming reached our ears months ago, the...

Jun 2, 2022

It’s hard to imagine all of what goes on at a chemical level in nature. Here is a common plant, growing in mucky wetlands, that uses carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and energy from the sun to make food, chemical weapons, and pharmaceuticals.