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Signs of Spring

5/14/19 – The weather is warming up and the crew members aren’t the only grateful ones. In the last week, there’s been plenty of signs of new life and growth around the Sawbill area. There is a huge diversity of plant life in the BWCA and while the coniferous trees are as green as ever, other floras are starting to catch up. For instance, crew members have gotten the pleasure of watching daffodils persevere through the recent snowstorms to finally bloom right outside of their kitchen window.

Yellow daffodils bloom outside of the crew member house.
In addition to the yellow flowers, one solo white one is seen in the patch as well.

Another rapidly growing plant are the many types of mosses, growing greener by the day. The type of moss seen below, presumed to be sphagnum of the sphagnaceae family, was spotted on Britton peak on the Superior Hiking Trail. There are 33 species of sphagnum moss in Minnesota and that’s just one genus. Think of the variety when considering all categories and families! These little guys play an essential role in our ecosystem. They are food for some, shelter for others, reduce erosion, stabilize soil (especially important after a fire), and retain water and humidity for the habitat. Needless to say, they’re important and honestly pretty cute.

Moss on Britton peak with a couple fingers for scale. So small!

Lastly, the common but classic pussy willows are patiently waiting to bloom, signifying the end of winter. Though I haven’t spotted any of their flowers yet, surely there may be some already blooming. With over 20 species of pussy willows in Minnesota, it’s a pretty common site to see them in the marshy, wet areas of the boundary waters. I expect to see some bees feeding on pollen soon here as the flowers are starting to emerge. Unfortunately, there has already been a noticeable increase in mosquitoes just in the past week. If you’re taking the trip up to Sawbill, don’t forget your bug spray! Happy Spring!


Pre-bloom pussy willow branch on the Sawbill Trail.