Sunday, May 15, 2011

Five Forks BMP

For the second field trip of 2011 I organized a trip to a BMP (detention basin) in the Five Forks area of James City County. Most BMP's aren't worth a second look, but this particular one was constructed along a local stream and has a nice selection of native wetland plants. I scheduled the walk to coincide with the blooms of some swamp doghobble that was growing along the edges of the BMP, but there was a very small turnout since there was a competing plant walk on the same day to see sweetleaf in bloom.

We started off looking at the nice selection of vines growing on the edge of the BMP: crossvine, grapes, poison ivy and (yuk) Japanese honey suckle.

The crossvine had a very interesting structure within the flowers, with crossing stamens leading to butterfly-shaped anthers.
Another interesting thing about the flower was the smell. One of the field trippers noted that the crossvine was supposed to have a mocha scent, so I gave it sniff and sure enough, it smelled just like coffee grounds.

Speaking of scents, another flower that I had never bothered to smell before was the tulip tree flower. They have a wonderful vanilla scent.
After looking at a couple trees, we ventured into the bottom of the BMP. I didn't bring any boots, but luckily someone else did and he was kind enough to get in the mud and pluck a bloom of yellow pond lily for a close up view.
I'm still a little confused with the pond lily. Depending on the source, the number of species ranges from 1 to 25. I'm not sure there is a final consensus yet.

Not too far away from the pond lily was the swamp doghobble I wanted to see. It was a little difficult to get to however. We had to make our way through a thicket of sapling trees to find them.
Swamp doghobble has long racemes of bell shaped flowers which are sweetly scented. Standing next to the doghobble you could see the lush stands of cinnamon and royal ferns on the other side of the swamp, but we decided to leave those for another day.

A couple other plants we spotted on the walk: willow, elderberry, swamp dogwood, and American holly. The dogwood wasn't in quite in bloom the day we were there, but when I went back a week later, the white flowers seemed to be everywhere.

You can see all my photos from the walk here.


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Nice to see you. Interesting fact about the fragrance of the Crossvine. The ones around here are so high in the trees I don't think I could get to it to catch a whiff. My tulip poplars are so tall and I didn't see any blooms on mine, though lots on my neighbor's. Will have to remember to check them out next spring.
We have some doghobble along the lake.

Les said...

I will not say I like the fragrance of Cross Vine, but I planted one anyway that came up as a seedling at work. I am hoping to have it crawl across the edge of the porch roof. The cross section of the blossom is interesting.