Howard Boyd, naturalist extraordinaire of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, has Conrad's Broom-Crowberry (Corema conradii) as the first plant listed in his wonderful little book, Wildflowers of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Plants are listed in the order they bloom throughout the year, thus Broom-Crowberry is the first to bloom, starting in mid-March. And it was this plant which was the focus of the first Pinelands Preservation Alliance field trip of the year. Given the winter we had here in New Jersey, with record breaking snows and more recently flooding rains, there were plenty of people who wanted to go and see plants blooming, any plants blooming, just be outdoors again.
I was one of those people. (It helps that I'm a neophyte plant geek as well.) There were thirty or so others like me. Helped no doubt by the wonderful first weekend of spring.
Here is Broom-Crowberry in flower.
It is a lovely little purple flower, emphasis on "little".
But where it grows there is quite a bit of it, making it up in volume.
My friend Laura at Somewhere in NJ has written eloquently on confusing what normal people mean by the word "flower" with what plant geeks mean. This is what cabin fever will drive one to, traipsing around the pine plains looking at tiny little flowers.
The Pinelands, like the Everglades, has a subtle beauty, grounded in its uniqueness, which I find hard to capture in photographs. But one that draws me back time and time again. Broom-Crowberry is one of those unique things, albeit definitely an acquired taste.
Photograph by Laura Hardy
I'll leave you with an image of yours truly, neophyte plant geek, engrossed in photographing this curious plant using a marco lens attached to a tripod mounted camera (can't you see?). Working very hard to get close enough to get a useful shot.