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'Once in a lifetime ' experience: Lighthouse keeper on Lake Superior
CBC News (5/19)
A group is hiring two students to serve as lighthouse keepers this summer on Porphyry Island, about 40 kilometers east of Thunder Bay, Ont.

Superior students set sail for hands-on learning about St. Louis River, Lake Superior
Wisconsin Public Radio (5/16)
Close to 1,500 students from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin set sail for a day on St. Louis River to learn about the Great Lakes, as part of the week-long St. Louis River Quest.

Tree group aims to ‘ReLeaf’ Michigan
WKAR - East Lansing, MI (5/10)
An Ann Arbor-based organization has been planting trees all over Michigan since 1988. ReLeaf Michigan helps property owners learn about trees and how to plant them, citing their numerous benefits.

Coldwater bacteria threatens Great Lakes salmon
Charlevoix Courier (5/3)
A new study shows a bacterial disease that sickens fish whether raised in captivity or in the wild is imperiling popular salmon species in the Great Lakes Basin.

TEACH Calendar of Events
What's going on in your neighborhood this month? Meet other people and learn together at recreational and educational events! Our new dynamic calendar is updated daily with current educational events.
Great Lakes native flora

table of contents
What is flora?
Brief floral history of the Great Lakes basin
The importance of native landscaping
Native plant species of the Great Lakes region
Some resources for starting your own native plant garden
Native flora fun facts!
Take a quiz!
References

What is flora?

Click for larger
image. Flora was once known as the Roman goddess of flowers, though today we use the term to refer to plant life, including trees. We'll be focusing on vascular plants, which have specialized supporting and water-conducting tissue called xylem and phloem, and typically possess roots, stems and leaves. Nonvascular plants, such as mosses, lack an internal conducting system for water and nutrients, so they depend on their immediate surroundings for moisture.

To be considered a plant, an organism must possess certain characteristics: photosynthesis, cellulose, stationary existence and lack a nervous system.

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants transform energy from the sun into the energy they need to survive. Through photosynthesis, plants are able to convert water, carbon dioxide and minerals into oxygen and energy. Without photosynthesis, there would be little food or other organic matter on Earth; the air would be full of carbon dioxide; and most organisms, including humans, would disappear.

Click for larger image. Cellulose is the basic structural component of plant cell walls, making them rigid and "boxed" shaped. Enabling the leaves and stems of a plant to stand up straight is an important function of cellulose. Plants also lack the means to move on their own as well as a nervous system. The nervous system is a group of organized cells that allow an organism to respond to sensory impulses.

Vascular plants are classified as either gymnosperms or angiosperms. Gymnosperms, meaning "naked seed," have an exposed seed, which can also include a pinecone. Softwood trees, such as conifers, are examples of gymnosperms. Angiosperms, meaning "hidden seed," include 80 percent of the Earth's plants, including all flowering plants. The seeds of angiosperms are enclosed within fruits, often called ovaries. In addition to flowering plants, hardwood trees, such as oak, maple, hickory, birch and poplar, are classified as angiosperms.

Graphics: snow trillium (credit: USDA PLANTS database); xylem and phloem model (credit: Britannica.com)

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