Minnetonka’s Historic Ecological Landscape
Minnetonka lies in the tension zone where prairies, oak savannas, oak woodlands, and big woods (late successional, maple-dominated closed canopy forests) historically converged. In Minnetonka, prairies and oak ecosystems (oak savannas and oak woodlands) were once the prevalent plant communities prior to Euro-American settlement. Just west of Minnetonka in communities such as Excelsior or Wayzata, big woods was the primary plant community. The Cullen Nature Preserve likely was a transition zone between oak savanna and oak woodland, as evidenced by the age of the white and bur oaks as opposed to the much younger fire-intolerant trees on the property.