Monday, March 26, 2012

Come Walk With Me

Wallace Wood and Patrick McMillan

This past Saturday my friend Ann and I were lucky enough to participate in a nature hike through Steven's Creek Heritage Preserve.    What a wonderful place!  It is over four hundred acres of unspoiled beauty.  The guide was Patrick McMillan, host to ETV's show "Expeditions".  What a great guide for this adventure.  Wallace Wood set up the tour.  He is associated with the Upper Savannah Land Trust.  What a great piece of land.




The tour was advertised as 1.5 mile long, Ha!! Thank goodness we were in the early hike.  We saw so many interesting plants and heard birds high in the trees.  Patrick can ID many birds by ear, nice to have that wealth of knowledge.  He used the iPod app for bird calls to learn many of them.
The hike started off in the upper pine forest.  Pine forests have more acidic soils and most of the understory plants are generally evergreen.  The more deciduous the forest, the more deciduous the understory plants.   One of the first shrubs he talked about was Ilex cuthbertii a deciduous holly related to I. decidua.  This plant is only found in South Carolina and Georgia.  This small preserve is host to so many special plants.   The pine forest area was once cotton fields, now most all the topsoil has washed away.


Malus angustifolia



Most of the pictures are in order of the hike.  The flowering crab-apple is fragrant, pretty white blooms.



We traveled along the path, heading into the lower forest along the Savannah River.  As we walked we saw differences in the terrain and the vegetation.   More Ostrya virginiana, Quercus alba, Cornus florida, and other deciduous trees were more plentiful.    Dogwood, Cornus florida, are some of the most shallow rooted trees.  The one in the picture below looks dead.  We had a bad drought last summer and it looks as though the leaves came out on the dogwood and crinkled up and died, without falling off.  It is not dead though...look closely at the new growth.  
There is hope that this one and its fellow dogwood neighbors will live and continue to grow ...provided we have enough rainfall this year.
Lots of Wild Ginger, Asarum was coming up through the leaf litter.  This one has a common name of 'Little Brown Jugs'.  The evergreen leaves hold on to many of the plant's nutrients, especially Calcium.  As you move further into the deciduous forest, the soils are less acidic and have far more nutrients are present, calcium and magnesium to name a couple.


I wish there was a list of all the various plants we were able to see, being in the middle to back of the pack, I wasn't able to catch all the names.  Seems like I kept falling further back as I stopped to take some photos.  Will have to return next spring again.  With this warm spring and a little more rain, we were able to see a lot of spring ephemerals in bloom.  This is Hairy Spiderwort, Tradescantia hirsuticaulis, which blooms spring and fall.  The small hairs on the filaments are most interesting.  According to Patrick, this plant is sensitive to radiation in the soil.   This one was found in the first part of the trail.  Remember this as we get down closer to the Savannah River area.
 Native Geranium were scattered in the open areas.
 So pretty ---
 When we first encountered this little beauty I thought it was Blue-Eyed Grass from a distance.  As I got closer I saw the beautiful coloration on its petals.  While I have seen this on many other blogs, I was not prepared to know it for its small size.  This is Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica.

Nestled along with the Claytonia and Geranium, was this False Rue Anemone, Enemion biternatum

 
 Many Trillium were in bloom, again, being in the back of the pack, I am not sure of the species.   What interesting blooms!



There is one plant that is not found anywhere but here and Lake Miccosukee, Florida.  It is the Miccosukee Gooseberry, Ribes echinellum.  Two places on this earth!! Amazing.   The leaves are lobed, hairy and the stems are quite thorny (as are most Gooseberry)
 It appears that each node there are three thorns, pointing in three different directions.
 The berries form after the flowers are spent, hanging under the foliage.
They are described as little ballerinas twirling.

Down along the pathway, where the moisture is more abundant, are some Solomon's Seal.  Polygonatum biflorum  The flowers aren't quite open yet.


 Native shrubs, like the Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, pictured below were in the open area.  There was a grove of Pawpaw, Asimina triloba.  Interesting facts about the Pawpaw-- they need another plant to reproduce.  Most Pawpaw form groves, clones of the parent plant.  They will not produce fruit if there isn't a different parent plant.
 Ferns were coming up.  I love the curled heads as they emerge and unfurl.  There were Christmas ferns and Beech ferns along our path.
 Little foam flowers, Tiarella cordifolia were blooming. I love natives.

As we walk along the edges of the Preserve where we are closer to the Savannah River we come across some more Spiderwort--- remember those hairy fibers along the filament?  No longer purple, but a pinkish color.  Very interesting!!



Great blooms, whatever color they might be!



Last but not least, as we joined crossed a small creek and headed back, retracing our steps, was a cluster of  Shooting Star, Dodectheon meadia.  
Pollination of this upside down bloom is quite the challenge!  

Additionally, this ties in well with Gail's Wildflower Wednesday at Clay and Limestone.  Head over and see more natives!

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

37 comments:

  1. How lucky you were to have Patrick lead your tour! He is one of my daughter's professors at Clemson. She has learned a great deal from him. He is incredibly knowledgeable. I love seeing the natives in their natural environment!

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    1. Karin, yes I thought he was a great person to lead this tour. He is passionate about his subject matter.

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  2. Janet,

    What a lovely trip, lots of great finds. You had never seen Spring Beauties? I'm just loving seeing those Spiderworts. Can't wait to see ours bloom.

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    1. Randy, no, I have only seen Spring Beauties on other people's blogs. What a sweet little bloom.

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  3. You are across the continent, but we share many of the same plants. This was a great hike, and so easy on my body...thanks for letting me tag along.

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    1. Ricki, thanks for coming along! Interesting to see the plant material in various parts of the country.

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  4. Janet now this is plant porn to me..all those gorgeous natives...fab walk!!

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    1. Donna, well, I am glad to have shared some porn with you!

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  5. I've heard that identifying bird calls is the best way to find birds. Amazing that he was able to learn the calls through an App. The internet just changes everything doesn't it? (in many good and wonderful ways)

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    1. Marguerite, technology is opening a whole new world of information at our fingertips (or ears as the case may be).

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  6. What a wonderful walk! I wish I'd been there. The note about the gooseberry was really fascinating. :o) I haven't found golden alexanders to be aggressive at all. It spreads really gently in my garden and I let it self seed to make sure I always have a patch. My sweetspire are about 8 years old and are pretty big. I cut them back by half last summer so I'm hoping for a lot of blooms this year.

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    1. Tammy, thanks, I sure enjoyed it! Good to know about the Golden Alexanders and the Sweetspire....mine is so small.

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  7. That little camera of yours takes some amazing photos! It was such a great day and Patrick....well what can I say about Patrick except that he is amazing.

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    1. Ann, We had a great day, so glad we went! And yes, my little camera is pretty amazing.

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  9. Janet, Honestly, this is so inspiring. In a couple of weeks, I really want to go for a walk in the woods and start looking for wildflowers. It is impressive to see what a diverse range of flowers can be found once you really start looking. My favourite was the shooting star. So pretty!

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    1. Jennifer, it was a great walk, love to learn more of the native plants. I like the Shooting Star too.

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  10. I'm very jealous of your hike! Been gardening nonstop lately. Did you learn if that gooseberry has an edible fruit? I'd love to find a heat tolerant variety... wonder if anyone sells it from tissue culture (I try to avoid poached plants).

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    1. Eliza, you would have enjoyed it! I did not hear about the gooseberry being edible, though I imagine it is...just a bit sour (like other gooseberries) I doubt it is sold anywhere, it is so limited in habitat.

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  11. I love nature hikes and have endless curiosity for what I can find. You are much better at ID'ing the finds though. It is the same with bird calls too. Some I know, but as the forest fills with sounds, it becomes a confusing cacophony. I read an interesting post on taking dogs on nature walks. It had a study of the effect it had on birds. You might be interested whether you have a dog or not. http://dogbehaviorscience.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/dogs-walking-in-the-woods-scares-off-birds/

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    1. Donna, I love nature hikes too. I will read the link, I forgot it was here, will head over there after this.

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  12. Even though the hike was longer than advertised - I'd say you certainly got your money's worth as far as plant life and great photographs. Wish there were more walks like that here. Thanks for taking us along.

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    1. Barbarapc, yes, I certainly got my money's worth. Could have taken twice as long for more pictures!! Hope there will be more walks in the future.

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  13. Wonderful!
    What a great post for Wildflower Wednesday!
    It's impossible to pick a favorite photo, but the fern uncurling is beyond words!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Lea, yes I thought so too! I love ferns as they unfurl.

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  14. really enjoyed joining you virtually, thanks, some beatiful blooms,

    also interesting to me are the dead looking Dogwoods coming to life, many of my Willows look dead and didn't leaf last year as with lots of trees on Scotlands west coast, the culprit wasn't drought like yours but very, very strong gales just as the trees were staring to leaf, thankfully I noticed a few days ago that some pink leaf buds are showing on some of my Willows, not as far forward as your Dogwoods but enough to hope at least some are not dead, Frances

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    1. Island Threads, thanks for coming along! I think patience is key when plants are stressed, give them a chance.

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  15. Beautiful, Janet! Thanks so much for taking us along on your hike--I would have fallen in back, too, trying to photograph everything:) I've seen many of these natives on blogs, but how wonderful it would be to see them altogether in the wild like this.

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    1. Rose,there were so many photo ops! It was different seeing these natives in the wild for sure!

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  16. janet, there's so much in this post, i'll have to read it twice! that was a wonderful hike you went on...i'm amazed by how many flowers you saw. i have never seen claytonia or shooting star except in books. jealous!

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    1. Daricia, there was so much during the walk!! I didn't post all the great plants I saw. I know you would have loved this walk.

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  17. I'm envious, you saw a lot of beautiful wildflowers on the walk!

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  18. Nice tour with so much information!

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    1. Freda, thanks, it was a great learning experience!

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  19. How great to visit Steven's Creek in the spring -- it's one of SC's botanical treasures. And especially nice to have Patrick leading the trip. He's a wonderful voice for plants and nature!

    Lisa

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    1. Lisa, yes, Patrick was a great person to lead this trip, I really learned a good deal. I hope to do this hike again in coming years.

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