Pollinator Intros

Today as part of the orientation for the 2023 summer crew Dr. Jennifer Ison led a group in catching and identifying bees. The group loved running around the heliopsis in the garden trying to capture that elusive male Megachilidae “mason bee” with the big furry body and the green eyes. Unfortunately, we were so excited we forgot to get a picture. So you’ll have to take my word for it, but here’s a picture of the flowers.

Liam Poitra

Echinacea Project 2023

Environmental science university of mn-morris

Pronouns: he/him

Research interests: I am hoping to build on my knowledge of native flora and how they affect the environment around them, especially the soil characteristics. I would love to learn more about how deep rooted perennials affect the hydrology of the landscape.

Statement: I am from Virginia, MN

I started getting interested in native prairie plants when i was in high school working with conservation corps MN and IA in their youth program, I love being outside and spending time in nature. My hobbies include running, snowboarding, fishing, hiking, and gardening.

Big day for planting!

Today about half of the team got together and planted a new experimental plot. We all found our roles, worked efficiently, and got it done in 2 1/2 hours. Good work team! I’m excited to see what happens to the plot over the summer!

Little Guy in his Natural Habitat

A monarch butterfly caterpillar at the Runestone Park remnant which is abundant with milkweed, his favorite snack.

Drink water

Slow start this morning drinking water as we waited for rain to pass so we could continue shooting ENRTF GPS points (we forgot it’s raincoat). After lunch we continued with more of the same work and saw some Heliopsis helianthoides conspiring with bees.

Cloudy with a chance of Geese Attacks

We started early today to beat the heat but instead were greeted with a cloudy and cool morning. Right off the bat, I started the morning by continuing to take some GPS points for the ENTRF-funded bee research project. While I was enjoying taking points in a site with minimal hills… other groups did not have the same experience. Public enemy #1 (Geese) showed their true colors by showering El with some “love”.

After lunch, I learned how to take samples of the amount of light available along some of our transects using a light meter. My biggest trouble was finding all of our nails in the ground!

Photosynthesis, planting, and points.

Lots of tasks today, one of which was sampling the amount of light available along some of our transects using a light meter!

These transects are part of our seeding experiment, and we added some lovely markers to help us spot some sprouting echinacea!

We also continued to establish new points for our upcoming emergence trap work and we saw several friends along the way.

Outreach day at the park!

Around 80 8th grade students from Morris Junior High came by and learned about tools used in prescribed burns, plant identification, how to develop hypotheses, and methods for finding and trapping native bees!


Other members of the team established points for our ENRTF-funded pollinator project, a rare species (Teeny catus) was spotted at the Hjelm House, and we all had watermelon at the end of the day to cool off.

What’s flowering at Staffanson???!!

Welcome back to this week’s episode of “What’s Flowering at Staffanson?”, where I will report to our avid flog followers the current blooms at one of our most beloved remnant prairies.

Pasqueflower (Anemone patens) is still flowering in some parts of the preserve, but most of the plants are producing fruits by now.

Next up we found some prairie buttercup (Ranunculus rhomboideus)

Jared wanted me to get a photo of Carex media, but like the photo above, my phone camera wouldn’t focus on the slender sedge (I tried, I swear!). So, picture everyone’s favorite sedge ~here~. Meanwhile, I can show you a non-blurry photo of violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea).

We saw a handful of heart-leaved Alexanders (Zizia aptera) beginning to produce their yellow umbels (or umbellets?).

For some hemi-parasitic representation, we saw bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata). Actually, we saw loads of Comandra, it seemed to cover large portions of Staffanson!

Hoary puccoon (Lithospermum canescens) was just beginning to show its Kraft mac-and-cheese-like colors.

Perhaps my favorite photo of the day was of prairie violet (Viola pedatifida) and its dark purple striped veins. If you look closely, you can see Jared admiring the landscape in the background. Or is it Jared…?

The true mystery of the day was the usually-abundant prairie smoke (Geum triflorum). We ventured all the way to the west end of Staffanson before we found a plant. While I appreciated the treasure hunt, I wonder why it’s a poor year for prairie smoke!

I made all of these observations of Friday, May 19th. I’m excited to return to Staffanson in a few weeks and see how the prairie has changed!

Abby Widell

Echinacea Project 2023

B.S. Botany and Environmental studies, UW-Madison, 2023

Pronouns: She/her

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in plant ecology, restoration ecology, and fire ecology. I am curious about plant functional traits, especially those related to fire adaptation, and intraspecific variation.


I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and fell in love with prairies during my undergraduate years in Madison, Wisconsin! In my spare time, I like to run, bike, do ceramics, knit, and read.