I was fortunate enough to spend some time last weekend birding in the NJ Pine Barrens and several of the spring flowers in were full bloom. This beautiful golden flower is known as Pine Barren Heather or Golden Health (Hudsonia ericoides). Pine Barren Heather is a small shrub which grows in dry open sandy areas throughout the pine barrens and several plants were in full bloom last weekend.
Sand Myrtle is another low flowering shrub that grows in sandy patches, but prefers wet areas over dry. Even though it has been a relatively dry spring, these lovely white-flowered shrubs were blooming in many of low wet areas I walked through this weekend.
I hope you enjoy the flowers….I took the photos with my cell phone as I walked from spot to spot during one of my bird surveys for the New Jersey Audubon.
In an earlier post I noted that I had found two of the three species of sundew that occur in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, but had not yet located the Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). My search came to an end in late July while I was hiking in Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. I was busy photographing several flowers and was about to walk away when I noticed the a small patch was covered in sundew. It only took a couple moments to locate this Round-leaved sundew.
This was a pretty good summer for pine barrens plants, my first year of really attempting to learn about the botany of this amazing area. I have a few more photos to process and plan to have them posted soon. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think about my sundews!
Here is a plant that I didn’t expect to find in the New Jersey pine barrens, the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa). There are apparently over 200 species of prickly pear cactus scattered thoughout the Americas. Here in New Jersey, the prickly pear produces large showy flowers that bloom for about a day. The oval fruits are red or red-purple which, when ripe and properly prepared, are edible.
Prickly pear cactus have been introduced in many places around the world where, unfortunately, it can spread as an invasive weed. I photographed this large specimen in the village of Malealea located in the highland kingdom of Lesotho, Africa. Attempts to eradicate the cactus have been almost completely unsuccessful, so the villagers attempt to manage plants by periodically cutting or burning them back.
Fortunately, prickly pear doesn’t grow so large in the pine barrens and is an interesting addition to the variety of plant life found here.
Sundews are another family of carnivorous plants which call the pine barrens home. Three species of sundews occur in bogs, swamps, and other wet, sandy places. Like other carnivorous plants, they supplement their normal nutritional intake from the pine barren’s poor soils by capturing and digesting insects.
I photographed this spatulate-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia) while on a botany field trip in Warren Grove, New Jersey. Note the long-stalked leaves are covered with short hairs. Each hair exudes dew-like drops which happen to be very sticky. Unsuspecting insects are attracted to the leaves and become entangled by these sticky hairs. As the insect struggles to free itself, the leaf slowly wraps around it and completes the trap.
This is a thread-leaved sundew (Drosera filiformis), photographed on the same field trip. The leaves of this sundew develop into erect, unbranched stems that can be 6 to 16 inches long. These stems are covered with short, gladular hairs tipped with a dew-drop of sticky liquid.
Here’s a close-up of a thread-leaved sundew which shows hundreds and hundreds of glandular hairs – an effective trap for any insect unfortunate enough to come to close to the sundew’s leaves.
The thread-leaved sundew produces numbers of rose-pink to ruby flowers from mid-June through late August. I was fortunate enough to have this flowering plant pointed out to me by a fellow field tripper.
The round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) also grows in the pine barrens but is quite small and easily overlooked. I have yet to find one, but will post a photo as soon as I do. I find all of the carnivorous plants of the pine barrens quite facinating, as I hope you do too.
New Jersey’s pine barrens are home to several species of carnivorous plants, including the Pitcher-plant (Sarracenia purpurea). The leaves of pitcher-plants are shaped like tubular pitchers capable of holding water. The tip of each leaf is covered in downward pointing hairs. Insects are attracted to the leaf’s color and scent, fall into the water inside, and are unable to fly or crawl out. The plant draws nutrients from the decaying insects trapped by its leaves.
Pitcher-plants are common in bogs and swamps of the pine barrens, with clusters of leaves often jutting through mounds of sphagnum moss, as with this plant.
Summer has been speeding along for me and it seems that I have had time for everything but blogging. I have a backlog of photos to share, though, and I offer this interesting flowering plant today – the Swollen Baldderwort (Utricularia inflata).
I hope you find the Swollen Bladderwort as facinating as I do and thank you for your patience as I gradually catch up on my postings.
One final comment for tonight. Thank you very much to the reader who provided me with the correct name for the “Redbuds” shown in an earlier posts. I now know that these are the flowers of the Red Maple (Acer rubrum). Thank you!!!
Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) is in full bloom now, an early Spring flower in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. Also known as Cassandra, you can find this low growing shrub growing along ponds, bogs, and slow moving streams.
Leatherleaf grows in large colonies and produces rows of small. white, bell-shaped flowers. Out hiking this weekend, I found these flowers in three different locations.
The Pine Barrens are off to a beautiful start this year and, with the help of Howard Boyd’s Flowers of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, I hope to find (and photograph) several other flowers this Spring.