Pine Barrens Botany Field Trip

Pinelands Preservation Alliance

A couple weeks ago I spent several hours on a beautiful Sunday exploring the unique flora of New Jersey’s pine barrens.  This was a total new experience for me, having never once gone along on a botany field trip.  The field trip was led by a group of wonderful folks from Pinelands Preservation Alliance and was their first of the year in search of spring flowers.  I was introduced to this group through entry’s in Steve’s blog.  He was finishing up with the Alliance’s summer-long botany course and had posted some very nice photos, piquing my interest in their group. 

So I signed up for a day-long expedition in search of Broom Crowberry (Corema conradii), an evergreen shrub that grows in the pine barrens’ low-nutrient soils.  Our guides led us to one of the very few New Jersey locations where Broom Crowberry is found, a small sandy patch in the southern part of the state.

Broom Crowberry We arrived at the field in late morning and I was at first a little surprised.  I knew that we were there to see flowering plants, and had built this expectation of a field with large flowers.  Instead, I was greeted by this scene, a large sandy field with low growing shrubs.  Most of the other participants, much more experienced that I, were down on hands and knees busily viewing the plants with loupes or their naked eyes.  

I walked into the field and bent down to see for myself.  The flowers were there, but much smaller than I imagined.  Still, they were bright red and complete.  I spent the next several hours photographing flowers and shrubs, and learning a bit more about the pinelands. 

Broom CrowberryHere is one of those photos, which captures the flowers of both male (on the left) and female (on the right) plants.  Though very small, no larger than a pencil eraser, these flowers were abundant and in full bloom.  My boots and camera were covered in pollen by day’s end.

It was a great first experience.  I’ve gone back to the area a couple times since and have taken photos of other interesting plants I found along the way.  More photos for another day! 


9 thoughts on “Pine Barrens Botany Field Trip”

  1. I never knew that there could be male and female blooms! Is this unique to the Broom Crowberry or is this something I missed learning about nature?

    I like your photo essay… the first photo of the group of people is fantastic… the way the man in the yellow shirt has his hands clasped and the woman looking on the ground reflects well what you say about the experience. I especially like the close-up of the Broom Crowberry.

    Look forward to more pics… you make New Jersey look much better than what we stereotypically think of the state!

    1. Judi…I really don’t know if other plants species have male and female flowers. All of this is very new to me, but I am having a blast learning!

  2. Thanks for sharing your interesting expedition with us. The shot of the blooms is really pretty spectacular – you’ve captured so much detail and it looks like I could reach out and touch it.

  3. What a fun day trip this must have been. The closeup of the broom crowberry is excellent when enlarged. The detail is amazing. Many species have male and female plants. Many hollies and the pistachio are two that I can think of that have male and female plants.

  4. Sounds like a fun trip. 🙂

    I had a few beers with Russell the other night (the guy in the yellow jacket for those following along at home) and we kicked around ideas for future trips. One us starting with microscopes looking at the smallest objects we can see and ending with telescopes looking at the largest. Hopefully we can get it together.

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