We have Mink!

I was in my boat a couple of days ago, coming through the cut between Snake and Coyote Islands in The Oxbow, when I noticed a small animal swimming across from one island to the other. As I got closer I got a really good look and peered into this really cute little face. By the time I realised I should be taking photos, this little guy was swimming away from me, so I wasn’t able to photograph his face.mink

However, a quick search on Wiki soon confirmed that this was indeed a mink.

I found a better photo on the NYS Parks website


Cute eh!   And he’s a regular here too.  It’s so good to see that these native animals are doing well in this area.


Bluejacket or Ohio Spiderwort

This is an interesting, attractive plant, growing close to the canal shore. I’ve only seen three plants in one area, which makes me wonder if this is a remnant from a squatters garden.

I purchased two larger plants from Amanda’s Garden a few weeks ago, and they are doing well in my garden area close to the canal.  They are in full flower right now.

You can read more about them here.


The plant occasionally goes by the rather repulsive name of Snotweed, which is a shame really, because I think it’s very pretty.






Here’s a weed that’s really good for you.



It’s everywhere in my backyard on the Oxbow, and I’ve been pulling it up and discarding it for years, yet it keeps coming back.

A neighbor recently introduced it to me as a snack food to add to salads.  Purslane has a slightly bitter but grass like taste, and because it’s a succulent, it’s crunchy!  I’ve put it in a tomato sandwich with some grated cheese.  It’s delicious!

Here are some of the health benefits  of Purslane.

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

2. Antioxidants.

3. Calcium and magnesium.

4. Potassium

5. Iron

6. Beta-carotene

7. Hydration

8. Glutathione and melatonin.

9. Betalain.

10. Tryptophan.


By Lemur12 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4608547

Wikipedia has a lot to say about this plant. It’s been used world wide for centuries by humans as a food source.

You could try growing it in a pot indoors, so it’s handy throughout the winter.


I hope you like it!






Huge Constrictors in the Oxbow Wood

1Yes, they’re huge, some six inches diameter, and snaking their way up the trees, many over forty feet long. I’m talking of Oriental Bittersweet Vines. (What were you thinking? Ha! Ha!)

They’ve got a great death grip on the trees which are dying slowly. This invader from Asia will grow up to the canopy of the forest and gradually overwhelm the trees. Their weight, along with winds and snow, will pull the tree to the ground in many instances.

In The Oxbow Woods, I eventually came across the Mother of All Vines, some six to eight inches in diameter, growing in numerous directions right in the midst of a stand of very tall beech trees, just like those in Hart’s Woods. From their sheer size, one would estimate the vines being at least seventy years old.

The vines have spread over the ground to encroach on several trees and is well evident in the canopy. I don’t doubt that these tree’s days would have been numbered if we hadn’t discovered this vine. It’s also probably the source of the infestation throughout the woods.

We’ve already cut through some vines and you’ll see the evidence from the dead leaves hanging from the trees. Don’t be tempted to pull on a hanging vine though. It could be just enough pressure to pull the tree over and cause you harm. Once cut, it is recommended to simply let the hanging vine dry up and it will eventually fall away from the tree’s branches in a couple of years. There are no biological remedies for the elimination of Oriental Bittersweet vines, so it’s up to us to control it.

Here’s a great video on dealing with these vines.

American Bittersweet V Oriental Bittersweet.


Unfortunately, these two varieties sometimes hybridize and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two species. In the fall, the American native has berries only on the end of the stem, as shown below, and I’m not sure what happens when they hybridize, so for the time being, due to the severe infestation here, we’ll consider cutting all the vines.

Among this stand I noticed one tree had a different vine, Poison Ivy. It’s a whopper too, with a trunk diameter of about two inches. No doubt this is the original seed source of all the poison Ivy throughout the Oxbow. The Boy Scouts have removed most of it, but one still needs to be on the lookout for this miserable plant.

Notice how the trunk of the vine has little hairs growing from it and the leaves are, of course, the tell tale three (if there’s three, let it be). Letting it be is not going to happen. It’s got to go. We’ll probably gear up with gloves etc, and gently hand saw through the trunks.

Regular, weekly mowing will control Oriental bittersweet, but less frequent mowing may result in suckers growing from the roots.






Here are the berries and leaves of Oriental Bittersweet.

Over this summer, several very large trees in The Oxbow Woods have been felled by Bittersweet Vines. This is the latest victim.

Some useful reading –

Minnesota Dept of Agriculture ruling All above and below ground parts of the plant must be destroyed. Additionally, no transportation, propagation, or sale of these plants is allowed. Failure to comply may result in enforcement action by the county or local municipality.

Minnesota Noxious Weed Law.

New York State DOT says Bittersweet Vine can be killed by just cutting them.

Plant Conservation Alliance report



I-spy an unusual vine

I noticed this vine yesterday. growing on the edge of a stand of saplings. I’ve become more familiar with the more common Oriental Bittersweet vines and Poison Ivy that infest the trees here, so this one stood out somewhat because of it’s extra large leaf which is about 8 inches across.

What is it? Indigenous? Invasive? Poisonous? I can’t seem to find any information on it.


The verdict is in!  It’s all three things, indigenous, invasive and poisonous.   Apparently, native Americans would chop up the root, pulverize it, then throw it into a lake or pond to stun the fish.

The ‘cucumbers’ look like this –wild-cucumber-11-9-_1095

We’ll know in a few weeks when the pods start developing hopefully!

Here’s a good article on Wild Cucumber

I-Spy a new tree. What is it?

This morning I noticed this very attractive small tree, just off The Oxbow Trail. I have no idea what it is, and so I’m hoping someone can enlighten me.

It seems to be an ornamental tree, probably left in the garden of one of the squatters cottages.

Any suggestions?

In the spring, I took some photos of this tree flowering, thinking it was a dogwood.


After only a few hours of posting this, residents quickly identified it as DOUBLEFILE VIBURNUM.

Here’s an information link


It’s a very pretty tree, but of Japanese or Chinese origin and not native to the area. I guess it’s beauty will keep it here.

It’s certainly worth a look right now if you happen to be on The Oxbow Trail.  Look on the school side of the trail.


Milkweed and the Monarch Butterfly

During the past few days, I’ve noticed splashes of orange flowers either side of the electricity pylon corridor between Harts Woods and the canal. I wasn’t sure what they were, as I’d been told they were a vetch and consequently couldn’t find any information on them. Then I found a photo of the flower with a Monarch butterfly caterpillar lunching on it, and so I immediately knew it was a milkweed. Googling ‘orange milkweed’ solved the mystery.

It’s no wonder this plant’s name isn’t clear. Wiki says common names include butterfly weed, Canada root, chieger flower, chiggerflower, fluxroot, Indian paintbrush, Indian posy, orange milkweed, orange root, orange Swallow-wort, pleurisy root, silky swallow-wort, tuber root, yellow milkweed, white-root, windroot, butterfly love, butterflyweed, and butterfly milkweed. Phew!

Butterfly Milkweed or Asclepias tuberosa is a species of milkweed native to eastern North America

How you can help the Monarch Butterfly? It’s under threat and declining, and Dog-Strangling Vine (DSV) or Swallow-wort is a major contributor, as it tricks the butterfly into laying eggs on it, but they don’t survive. It’s hardly surprising, because if you crush the leaves of this plant, you’ll find it has an obnoxious aroma suggesting it’s toxic. Here’s a video showing how to remove DSV, which will help the Monarch butterfly.

Planting milkweed in local gardens can help, and you can order seeds for little money here..Seed Needs U.S.A.


Swamp Milkweed


Common Milkweed

Hairy Balls or Balloon Plant Milkweed


Balloon Milkweed

Balloon  Milkweed is a native of South Africa, so I’d suggest not planting this, but it does show a great variety in the Milkweed family.

The Monarch is disappearing!