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University of Minnesota

10 plants that changed Minnesota

May 25, 2012

By Adam Overland

Which plants changed Minnesota and transformed how we live today?

That was the big question behind a public education campaign led by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. U of M horticulture professor Mary Meyer spearheaded the initiative, partnering with the Arboretum, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), and U of M Extension.

"10 Plants" Lectures
Thursdays in October, 7-8:30 p.m. Walk-ins welcome, or register by calling 952-443-1422. Cost: $10 per class. Future lectures: Oct. 4—American elm; Oct. 11—Soybeans; Oct. 18—Wheat; Oct. 25—Corn.

From early February through April 15, the public nominated more than 100 different plants. A panel of experts met to determine the final ten, ranking them according to their impact in six categories: environmental; economic or industrial; cultural/spiritual; historical; sustenance; and landscape.

Without further ado, the top ten plants that changed Minnesota are: alfalfa, American elm, apple, corn, purple loosestrife, soybeans, turf and lawn grass, wheat, white pine, and wild rice.

View a slideshow with more information about each plant and its impact on the state. All photos by David Hansen.


The committee and the public were in agreement for seven of the ten: apple, alfalfa, corn, soybeans, wheat, white pine, and wild rice. Plants that didn’t make the list but which received a lot of discussion were buckthorn, Eurasian milfoil, hosta, grapes, and sugar beets.

The top ten list kicks off a year-long educational campaign that will take place throughout the state, and will feature curricular materials in K-12 schools, a freshman seminar at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in conjunction with CFANS, games at the State Fair, and online information for teachers, Extension Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists, 4H groups, and all Minnesotans.

For more information, including members of the plant selection committee, see the Top Ten Plants.

Tags: University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Extension, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Related Links

University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

U of M Extension