Monday, April 26, 2010

Early Spring Rarities

The morning started out well enough, sunny and warm. It looked to be a good day. And then the phone rang.

"I'm running late."

"How late?"

"A little bit late."

For large values of "little." She was thirty minutes late. For a sixty plus mile trip to somewhere we'd never been before. In southern New Jersey. One of those "can't get there from here" kinda places.

And we didn't know the bridge was out.

Fortunately, no one else knew the bridge was out either (we weren't the only ones to arrive late). So after a twenty mile or so detour (sans signs) we pulled up as the group was heading out toward the first site.

We were on a botany field trip in southern New Jersey, hosted by the Philadelphia Botanical Club, to see early spring wild flowers. And we did, including the two rarities shown below.

Shouts ring out: "We found Listera! We found Listera!" and we all head further into the forest to see it.

Southern twayblade (Listera australis) is a small nondescript member of the orchid family. Howard Boyd, in his wonderful Wildflowers of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, notes that he knows of only two locations in southern New Jersey to find this flower. That makes twice as many as I know. (I wonder if this spot is one of his? Wouldn't it be cool if it wasn't?)

It was growing in clumps. There were twenty or so people on this trip, and as one of the participants remarked, each person with a camera had their own plant to focus on (pun intended I think).

This on the other hand we had expected to find, as the leaders had found it on a scouting trip the week prior. This is swamp pink (Helonias bullata), a federally endangered plant which has its largest populations in New Jersey (for small values of "large"). 

After a few more misadventures (we both slid into a lake up to our knees, no changes of clothes along) we headed to a local restaurant (for large values of "local") for a rather enjoyable dinner. Fortunately they didn't have a strict dress code.

These were life flowers for both of us. It turned out to be a very good day.

No comments: