Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bog Plants: Orchids and others!

On Saturday, Beth and I made our second visit of the year to Webb's Mill Bog (map) in Ocean County, right in the heart of the Pine Barrens. This bog is home to many rare plants including several species of orchids and representatives of most of NJ's carnivorous plants. The weather couldn't have been better for our trip.

After finding the slightly hidden entrance to the bog, we were quickly greeted with several species we had never seen before. Light-pink and dainty Rose Pogonia orchids were everywhere. Interspersed among them were Calopogon, or Grass-pink, with its groups of blush flowers with yellowish lips.

Rose Pogonia

Calopogon, or Grass-pink

Hundreds of yellow flowers of various species speckled the landscape. Bladderworts (Utricularia) of several species poked through the surface on their threadlike stems. Bladderworts are one of the more unique species of plants (definitely read the link above). They use the bladder-like sacs on their roots to capture tiny zooplankton in a sort of lightning-fast gulping action.

I believe this is Horned Bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta)

Other yellow flowers present included Golden-crest (Lophiola aurea) with its fuzzy yellow flowers and fuzzy white buds.

Golden-crest - very fuzzy

The last yellow flower we saw was Bog Asphodel (Narthecium americanum), a NJ endemic species restricted to the Pine Barrens. Its bunch of yellow flowers with feathery centers rounded out the sprinkling of sunshine color in the bog.

Bog Asphodel

Thread-leaved Sundews (Drosera filiformis) were also in bloom with their pink flowers. The other species of sundews did not appear to be blooming and seemed less numerous than on our last visit in May.

Here's the sundew with its flowers

In addition to the flora, there was one very interesting insect that Beth was able to photograph. Below is a photo of an Elfin Skimmer (Nannothemis bella), the smallest dragonfly in North America! This little guy is about an inch long, smaller than most damselflies. There were tons of them here.

For excellent reading about bog and swamp plants, check out John Eastman's The Book of Swamp and Bog: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of the Eastern Freshwater Wetlands. We're hoping to go back to Webb's Mill a few more times this year to see what other blooming seasons will present. Thanks to my woman, Beth, for the photos!


Jennifer Hanson said...

I guess you were one more person who was at Webb's yesterday; I was helping with a trip there and we ran into a couple of other groups, plus individuals, there. It was getting rather crowded on the boardwalk by the time we left!

It must be the high season for Pine Barrens nature trips right now, even though the Arethusa orchids are already done for the season. Webb's is a beautiful place with many unique critters and plants. Did you see Curly-grass Fern?

Patrick Belardo said...

I think I saw your group pull up behind us as we were leaving. I saw Chris M. who I know of, but he probably doesn't know me. Sadly, I lose major naturalist points for forgetting to look for Curly Grass Fern!!! WM is awesome. I can't believe I waited so many years before going there.

Poetry said...

Of Fly Catchers and hidden lakes.

Of sleeping lizards and morning dew.

It is of birdsong and misty dawns

and fleeced clouds floating in a still pool.

The waters ripple awake in the gathering morn.

The first water birds head out for the far shore.

LauraHinNJ said...

Great photos! I wonder if I could catch the bog asphodel next weekend?

Patrick Belardo said...

Laura, I'd say it's worth a shot!

Beth said...

You're welcome, Honey. As always, a great post! Laura, thank you. I'm glad you like the photos.

Jennifer Hanson said...

Webb's is truly great. So many interesting plants and critters in such a small area. If you're going back there, you should still have a chance to look for the fern. On the other hand, sometimes I look in a spot where I know they're growing and I still can't see them because they're so subtle and tiny. So they're easy to miss, whatever level of naturalist you are!