Sunday, August 21, 2011


            S1 Critically imperiled in New Jersey because of extreme rarity
            (5 or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals or acres).
            Elements so ranked are often restricted to very specialized
            conditions or habitats and/or restricted to an extremely small
            geographical area of the state. Also included are elements which
            were formerly more abundant, but because of habitat destruction
            or some other critical actor of its biology, they have been
            demonstrably reduced in abundance. In essence, these are
            elements for which, even with intensive searching, sizable
            additional occurrences are unlikely to be discovered.
            -- Nj Natural Heritage Program

I spent a day looking for orchids in the Pine Barrens. Two species I'd never seen. Spiranthes laciniata (Lace-lip Ladies'-tresses) and Platanthera integra (Yellow Fringeless Orchid). Both S1's. 

We've had quite a bit of rain of late. In fact it is the wettest August on record for these parts. And this is what the woods looks like. A river runs through it.

Fortunately my friend Ro new exactly where the plants were, having visited earlier in the week. So after I picked her up we headed off to the sand roads of the Pines.

Our first stop was for the Spiranthes. Ro had her iPad out, using the GPS to find the spot. She needn't have bothered. Four friends and fellow plant geeks were already there. This wasn't a total surprise as we'd all been at a party at Ro's place the night before, discussing our plans to visit these bogs. They had just gotten back from where we were headed and were pulling off boots and dumping bucket loads of water out. "The water is only hip deep today", they told us.

Not owning a pair of wading boots I went a different direction, wearing water shoes and shorts. My shorts got wet. And I almost lost a shoe in the muck (it did come off, but I was able to reach down and pull it up).

The water was cool and refreshing. And we were able to enjoy it for a while as it started to rain (it would rain on and off all day, with heavy thunderstorms in the late afternoon) and rain meant I needed to keep my camera covered.

It was curious to see the bog flooded, and plants usually above completely underwater. But the Spiranthes was a tall plant, the flowers well above the water line. The bog is a big one, yet there were only two of these plants known to be there. We saw but one and didn't fancy slogging through the water to find the other.

Which makes me wonder, how did the ant cross the water to the plant?

We made our way back to the car and drove further into the Pines to find the Platanthera.

This time the iPad came in handy. The rain had stopped, but there was thunder in the distance. So we hopped out and quickly headed down the trail.

Unlike the first site, here there were plenty of plants (this is but a small sample). But like the first site there was plenty of water although not quite as deep. This is where I almost lost my shoe though.

The rain held up as I shot away. Ro told me that this bog is home to eighteen rare and endangered plants. We agreed we'd have to come back once the water subsides to see how many we could find.

Finding these two made for a happy day.


Chesney said...

Hey Steve, sorry I have not been around a lot this summer, I have been watching your posts, just not commenting. I am finally caught up after all the vacations this year! Yeah!

Love all the delicate little blooms you found...great color and so pretty!

Guy said...


Great photos and a really interesting discussion of the plants and your trip. The Pine Barrens looks like a really interesting spot.


Zen Photography said...

Nice work and I enjoy your writings.