Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beaverdam Park

The John Clayton fall schedule of field trips got back in gear this weekend after a summer hiatus. On Saturday, longtime member Pat Baldwin lead a small group of people around the edges of Beaverdam Lake in Gloucester, Virginia. Beaverdam Lake is a great spot for plant hunting, especially around the shoreline. The wet areas make for a great diversity of herbaceous plants.

Pat, pictured above with the cookies he brought for the group, is a self-taught amateur botanist who really knows his stuff. He's been a member of the John Clayton Chapter of the VNPS since it formed around 25 years ago - how's that for dedication!

He started the field trip off by showing us an amazing fossil his son found somewhere in western Virginia. The big hunk of rock is actually the remains of a huge tree fern that predated the dinosaurs! I wondered if this meant we were going to be in for a very loooong plant trip, but not to worry, we immediately skipped ahead several millennia and began our walk.

Walking only a few feet into the woods, we came across several specimens of jumpseed and American lopseed. I hadn't seen the lopseed before. Most of the plants were setting seed, but there was one still in bloom (sorry about the blurry photo). It was taking on a nice charteuse color for the fall. This might be nice in a corner of a woodland garden - depending on how aggressive it is.

Closer to the shore were some typical area plants including skullcap, swamp smartweed, and Virginia bugleweed. A nicely flowering ground nut was growing in and out of the bushes nearby.

A more unusual plant was growing at the edge of the water - a large hazel nut shrub with nuts almost ready for eating. I've never seen it in the wild before, or tasted one.

As we wandered back towards the forest interior we came across a couple of lobelias: puberula and siphilitica.

Farther along the trail, Pat led us to a hillside seep was home to two vigorous patches of Phlox paniculata and jewelweed.

Growing next to them was some obediant plant (below), which Pat said was not previously recorded growing naturally in Gloucester County. I definitely want to come back next year - I'm sure this seep will have a lot of interesting spring flowers.

The trail wound back to the water where we came across some three-way sedge, small water plantain, swamp loosestrife, and the plant below that Pat couldn't identify. Any ideas?

Freshwater marshes make Beaverdam Park a really lovely spot, especially on pleasant days like this. The small bridge below provided a nice great spot to see what was left of this year's cardnial flower, growing in a large patch of sedge.

After the bridge we came across a couple species of tick trefoil and this nice specimen of lion's paw.

We ended the walk at an rather interesting spot. This small pond had a large colony of our native waterlily, but unlike the familiar white ones, these were a rich pink color. Unfortunately I could't get close to them but if you click on the photo below you can try to pick out the flowers in the larger version.

Thanks Pat for leading us around this beautiful spot! I hope you all get a chance to visit it sometime.

To see pictures of plants I didn't mention above, check out my photos from the trip. And to keep up to date on the rest of our plant walks this fall, be sure to check out the John Clayton Chapter events page.


Janet said...

Looks like a great day. I have no idea what that unknown plant is. I am not very good at ID-ing wildflower/ natives.

how it grows said...

Oh well, maybe someone will be able to help me out.