A BWCA Glossary


Fairy Barf
A colorful name sometimes applied to the crustose lichens, very thin and often colorful lichens which look as if they were poured or painted onto their log or rock substrate.
Falcon
Any of the swift, elegant hawks of the genus Falco. Well represented in the BWCA by the Kestrel (Falco sparverius), Merlin (Falco columbarius), and the legendary Peregrine (Falco peregrinus), the latter listed as Threatened. Most winters, one or more Gyrfalcon, our largest falcon and a resident of the Arctic, are spotted in northeastern Minnesota, usually around Duluth Harbor.
False Bottom
The muddy suspension of partially decayed plant material, plankton, and the like that accumulates on the bottom of minerotrophic bog lakes. Where exposed at the surface it supports the growth of mat forming sedges. Often fails to support the weight of the portaging canoeist.
Feathermoss
A perennial, relatively large, and robust moss with a feather-like form. It often forms a continuous carpet in stands dominanted by White Spruce (Picea glauca) or Black Spruce (Picea mariana). Best represented in the North Country by the ubiquitous Shreber's Feathermoss (Pleurozium schreberi).
Fen
A sedge or reed dominated peatland, often with some shrubs or small trees, characterized by mineral-rich, aerated waters at or near the surface. Fens with lower calcium content often evolve into Sphagnum lawns and, eventually, acid bogs. An Old English word.
Fernberg Road
Lake County Road 18, running east from Winton and Ely to the Lake One landing, providing access to spur roads connecting with other BWCAW entry points.

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Fibric Peat
Scarcely decomposed peat, made up largely of Sphagnum mosses.
Filamentous
A type of lichen characterized by a very fine, hair-like structure.
Finch
Any of the many seed-eating songbirds of the family Fringillidæ. Represented in the North Country by 8 Sparrows, 3 Grosbeaks, 2 Crossbills, and 5 small finches, the Common Redpoll ( Carduelis flammea), Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus), American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus), and the Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea).
Fir
Any of the evergreen, coniferous trees of the genus Abies. Represented in the North Country by the Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea). From the Old English fyre.
Fire
The great shaper and transformer of the northern forest. Ishkote or ashkote in the Ojibwe.
Firebreak
Any natural or constructed barrier or space, clear of flammable materials, used to segregate, stop, and control the spread of fire or to provide a control line from which to work. Bodies of water can form natural firebreaks.
Fire Danger
A measure of the likelihood of a forest fire, based on temperature, relative humidity, wind force and direction, and the dryness of the woods. Often proclaimed on roadside signs in National Forests, including the Superior.
Fire Grate
A heavy assemblage of welded, square iron stock serving to mark the location of established and officially sanctioned BWCAW campsites. Not particularly useful for cooking, except as a platform upon which to balance one's cook stove. (Photo: Fire grate doing service as cooking table)
Fire Interval
The typical period between wildfires in a natural environment, free of fire supression efforts. Varies widely among different plant communities, being as little as 100 years in Black Spruce (Picea mariana) stands.
Fire Line
Cleared area extending down to mineral soil that surrounds a fire to prevent the fire from reaching fresh fuels.
Fireweed
A tall, herbaceous perennial (Chamerion angustifolium) with striking, rose-pink flower spikes. An early colonizer of burns, hence its common name.
First Growth
Timber from a forest that has not been previously logged. Also known as Virgin Timber.
Fish Consumption Advisory
An annual publication of the Minnesota Department of Health providing lake-specific information on the number of fish of a given size and species which may be safely eaten without undue risk of exposure to harmful chemicals, primarily mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These are airborne contaminants; the isolation of wilderness lakes affords little protection from them. The Advisory is available online from the DNR with a Lake Finder search function or you can download or view online the entire 97 page Advisory in PDF format.
Fisher
1) A large northern weasel (Martes pennanti) once trapped extensively for its rich, silver-tipped fur; sold as sable. One of the few predators of the porcupine. Otchig or akâkwidjish in the Ojibwe. 2) One of the two popular map series for navigating Canoe Country. Yellow background at a scale of 1½" to the mile.
Flag
An old common name for iris and iris-like plants with bladed or flag-like leaves. Represented in Canoe Country by two waterside species, the Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) and Sweet Flag (Acorus americanus).
Flat Bottom
In canoe design, a shape affording great initial stability; reduced secondary stability.
Fleabane
Any of several related plants of the genus Erigeron that emit an odor thought to drive away fleas and other insects. Represented in the North Country by Common Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus).
Flowering Fern
Any of several species of large primitive fern of the family Osmundaceae, named for the Saxon god of war Osmunder, who hid his family under a clump of these ferns. The common name is a misnomer for a non-flowering plant, and is derived from the prominent spore bearing structures of these ferns. Represented in the North Country by three species of the genus Osmunda, the Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytonia), and the Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis).
Flycatcher
Any of a large group of insectivorous birds of the family Tyrannidæ, so named for their penchant for catching their insect prey on the wing. Represented in the North Country by seven species, the Olive Sided Flycatcher (Nuttallornis borealis), Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens), Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), Eastern Kingbird (Tyranus tyranus), and three of the frustrating Empidonax flycatchers, the Yellow Bellied (Empidonax flaviventris), Alder (Empidonax alnorum), and Least (Empidonax minimus). Also known as Tyrant Flycatchers.
Follicle
A type of dry fruit derived from a single pistil that splits open along only one suture line, as in the pods of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and the other milkweeds..
Forest
You know what a forest is to you. Here is what the USFS, in one published definition, sees: Area managed for the production of timber and other forest products or maintained as wood vegetation for such indirect benefits as protection of catchment areas or recreation.
Forest Center
A former logging camp just off the south shore of Isabella Lake, established in the late 1940's to support the infamous Tomahawk Timber Sale, which decimated vast areas of wilderness in the region between Isabella Lake and Insula. Forest Center served as a railroad terminus for the Duluth, Mesabi, and Iron Range Railroad as well as the hub of a network of gravel logging roads, remains of which can still be seen, on maps of the region and on the land itself.
Forest Floor
General term for the surface layer of soil supporting forest vegetation; includes all dead vegetation on the mineral soil surface in the forest as well as litter and unincorporated humus.
Formation
A body of rock both large enough to be mapped and distinct from surrounding rock. Usually takes its name from a geographic feature in the area where it is exposed on the surface (the Saganaga Batholith, for example).
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
A not-for-profit advocacy group with a rich and distinguished history, working "To protect and preserve the wilderness character of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Quetico-Superior Ecosystem through public advocacy, ecosystem preservation, scientific understanding, user education, and enhanced public appreciation."
Frogs
Water loving amphibians quite at home in Canoe Country. Represented in the BWCA by three species of Treefrogs (family Hylidæ), the Grey Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis/versicolor), Boreal Chorus Frog, (Pseudacris triseriata), and Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer); and four species of True Frogs (Ranidæ), the Mink (Rana septentrionalis), Green (Rana clamitans), Northern Leopard (Rana pipiens), and Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica). Omakaki in the Ojibwe, with various kinds of frog known as jashagawashkogissi (a green frog), passekanak, and pikonekwe (a small frog).
Frond
The leaf of a fern. It has two parts, the Stipe (leaf stalk or petiole) and the Blade (the leafy expanded portion of the frond).
Fruticose
A type of lichen (stalked, shrubby, or hair-like) which attaches to a tree bark substrate at only one point. They resemble trees or bushes with all but the attached portion away from the bark. They are the most highly developed of lichens.
Fruiting Body
A specialized fungal structure, often prominently visible, on or in which spores are produced. The large conks often encountered on tree trunks are an example.
Fungi
The kingdom of organisms which includes slime molds, mushrooms, smuts, rusts, mildews, molds, stinkhorns, puffballs, truffles, and yeasts. All absorb food in solution directly through their cell walls and reproduce through spores. None conduct photosynthesis.
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Last Updated on 11 April, 2004