A BWCA Glossary


Lac la Croix
The largest lake in the BWCAW. From the French, "Lake of the Cross."
Lacustrine
Of or relating to lakes.
Ladder Fuel
Combustible plant material which allows wildfire to climb from the forest floor to the treetops. Often dead or dying understory trees.
Lady Slipper
Any of several species of wild orchid of the genus Cypripedium. Represented in the North Country by the threatened Ram's Head Ladyslipper (Cypripedium arietinum), the Minnesota State Flower the Showy Ladyslipper (Cypripedium reginæ), the Stemless Ladyslipper or Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule), and the Yellow Ladyslipper (Cypripedium calceolus).
Lagg
The mineral-rich drainage area surrounding a bog, occupied by standing or sometimes moving water (as a Moat), a sedge fen, or shrub growth. Often marked in the North Country by impenetrable Alder Thicket.
Lake County
The centermost of Minnesota's three BWCA counties, extending from the Canadian border south to Superior, with St. Louis County to the west, and Cook County to the east.. The county seat and largest city is Two Harbors.
Lake-fill
The development of a floating vegetative mat on the shores of a lake or pond and the eventual fill-in by accumulation of peat. Also known as Terrestrialization.

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Lamprey
Any of the primitive, eel-like fishes of the family Petromyzontidæ, characterized by cartilaginous skeletons, a single nostril between the eyes, and a round, sucking mouth full of small teeth. Yup, they're ugly suckers. There are 17 species native to North America, including the Silver Lamprey (Ichthyomyzon unicuspis) of the BWCA, and one exotic, the once notorious Sea Lamprey of the Great Lakes.
Larch
Any of several deciduous conifers of the genus Larix. Represented in the North Country by a single species, the Tamarack (Larix laricina).
Larva
The immature instars, between the egg and pupal stages, of an insect having a complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, adult). Larvæ feed and grow but can neither fly, nor reproduce. Common larvæ include caterpillar, maggot, and grub.
Latrine
The backcountry toilet. Basically just a hole in the ground set well back from the water's edge and topped by a molded one-plastic seat with cover. Formerly made of wood. With the Fire Grate, one of the two required elements of an established BWCAW campsite. Also known as a Box Latrine or Pit Toilet.
Laurel People
A hunter/gatherer, pottery-making culture which inhabited the boreal regions of northern Minnesota and adjacent Canada during the first millenium of the common era. Named for a specific type of clay pottery known as Laurel, itself named after the town in Minnesota where it was first discovered.
Laurentian
Of or relating to the St. Lawrence River drainage and the Great Lakes region, as in the Laurentian Divide (separating the St. Lawrence drainage from that of Hudson Bay) or the Laurentian Orogeny (a mountain building period of the Early Precambrian).
Layering
A means of vegetative reproduction where branches root where they come into contact with the ground. Commonly seen in Black Spruce (Picea mariana) growing in harsh environments of bog or tundra.
Leatherleaf
A low ericaceous shrub (Chamædaphne calyculata) with tough, evergreen leaves. The most common of the North Country shrubs of bog and fen.
Lemming
Any of several species of small, vole-like rodents of the Far North. The only southern species, and sole Canoe Country representative, is Synaptomys cooperi, the Southern Bog Lemming.
Length
In canoe design and selection, a significant performace factor. Longer canoes have greater speed, tracking, and carrying capacity; they are preferred for open water. Shorter canoes are more maneuverable and lighter in weight; they are to be preferred for rivers and bushwhacking.
Lentic
In limnology, standing waters (lakes, ponds, etc.). Opposite of lotic.
Lesser Cherry Portage
A 90 rod Border Route portage on the Pigeon River, between Fan and Mountain Lakes.
Lichen
A mutualistic symbiotic relationship of a fungus and a photosynthetic algae, functioning as a single plant. Common to rocky northern environments and a primary food for caribou. Well represented in the BWCA by several species of Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia spp.).
Liftover
A portage technique for surmounting small barriers, particularly in river travel. Most commonly required for beaver dams.
Lightning
Perhaps the most common cause of fatalities in the BWCAW.
Lima Mountain
A 2238' summit with lookout tower just east of the BWCAW boundary in the Brule River drainage.
Limnology
The comprehensive scientific study of the functional relationships and productivity of freshwater communities as they are affected by their physical, chemical, and biotic environment, and includes standing (lentic) and running (lotic) waters.
Linnaeus, Carolus
The Swedish naturalist Carl Linné (1707-1778), founder of modern taxonomy. Gave his name to the Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) reputedly his favorite wildflower.
Litter
The accumulated plant debris of the forest floor, important as a means of returning nutrients to the soil and as a fuel for fire. Can inhibit germination in some species.
Little Knife Portage
A 5 rod Border Route portage between Ottertrack and Knife Lakes.
Little Vermilion Narrows
The Border Route channel connecting Sandpoint and Little Vermilion Lakes at the extreme western end of the BWCAW.
Littoral
The bottom of the lake basin colonized by macrovegetation. For the BWCA, generally considered to be waters to 15' in depth.
Loam
Soils with a particle size midway between the fine particles of the clays and the large particles of sand.
Lobe
The extension of a larger body; used in the description of glaciers, lichens, and leaf form, among others. The Superior Lobe, for example, was a great tongue of ice out of the Superior Basin which reached as far south as the Twin Cities some 20,000 years ago.
Loess
Windblown glacial deposits, often covering vast areas. Made up largely of silt size, angular particles, with strong water holding ability. Extremely fertile and a major contribution to the highly productive agricultural lands of the Midwest to the south.
Loon
The voice of the wilderness, in summer anyway. A circumpolar diving bird (Gavia immer) known in Britain as the Great Northern Diver. Mag in the Ojibwe.
Loon Lake Portage
An 80 rod Border Route portage between Loon Lake and the Loon River.
Looper
A caterpillar in which some or all of the middle abdominal prolegs are wanting and which moves by placing the posterior part of the abdomen next to the thorax, forming a loop of the intervening segments, then extending the anterior part of the body forward.
Loosestrife
Any of several species of wetland herb of the genus Lysimachia. Represented in the North Country by Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), Swamp Loosestrife (Lysimachia terrestris), and Tufted Loosestrife (Lysimachia thyrsiflora). Not to be confused with the Eurasian exotic and noxious weed Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).
Lost Interval
In the geological history of the North Country, a period of about 280 million years for which there is virtually no evidence. In the rest of the world at this time, plants flowered and dinosaurs dominated a fauna which included the first reptiles, birds, and mammals (including Homo). Except for the occasional iron formation, we don't really know what happened in this region over that very long time. Thank erosion.
Lotic
In limnology, running waters (streams, rivers, etc.). Opposite of lentic.
Lujenida
A lake in the Kelso River drainage. Name derivation unknown.
Lungwort
Any of several herbaceous perennials of the genus Mertensia. Represented in the North Country by the Tall Lungwort (Mertensia paniculata).
Lutsen
A small community on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Lyme Disease
A serious illness caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried to humans by the Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis). As of 1997 data, the Minnesota Department of Health reports Lyme disease exposure from St. Louis and Lake counties but not Cook. Other tick-borne diseases that occur in Minnesota include Babesiosis and Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis (HGE).
Lynx
The wild cat (Lynx canadensis) of the boreal forests. A retiring and rarely seen predator of the Snowshoe Hare, notable, like the hare, for its huge paws. Bisîw in the Ojibwe.
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Last Updated on 11 April, 2004