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Holly Shelter Greentree Impoundment walk

Sponsored by the Southeast Coast chapter

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Alistair Glen of Growing Wild Nursery led a field trip at the Greentree Impoundment of Holly Shelter Game Lands.  Beginning with the Shrub Oak Sandhill habitat along Shaw Hwy, we traversed Wet Pine Flatwoods/Pond Pine Woodland, Bottomland Forest and Levee Forest for a superb lesson in the dependence of native plants on specific habitats.

Shrub Oak Sandhill Habitat: Andropogon ternarius, Splitbeard Bluestem

The common name comes from the white-haired seed tufts, in pairs, that remain on the branch tips all winter.

Quercus laevis, Turkey Oak

A small, scruffy tree, seldom over 30' tall, Turkey Oak is well-adapted to xeric soils of this Shrub Oak Sandhill habitat, with thick, waxy leaves often held vertically to reduce surface evaporation.

Turkey Oak leaves

Silhouetted against the sky, it's easy to see the spreading, birdfoot-like shape of the leaves that give the common name.

Seed heads of Pityopsis graminifolia, Narrowleaf Silkgrass

Quercus margarettae leaves, Sand Post Oak

Another small (40') oak adapted to xeric, sandy soils, it has leaves with rounded lobes spread wide.

Leaves of Quercus incana, Bluejack Oak

A small oak, Bluejack Oak has bristle-tipped leaves that are dull bluish-green (barely!) and pubescent beneath.

Vaccinium arboreum, Farkleberry

Farkleberry can grow to be a small tree (thus the species name). The leaves in summer are a shiny green and nearly round, turning gold, pink or red in fall.

Farkleberry Close-up

Unfortunately the beautiful berries are dry and mealy.

Non-native grass (Eragrostis sp) as highway planting

Blackjack Oak, Quercus marilandica

A small, scrubby, drought-tolerant oak (another!), Blackjack Oak has broadly triangular leaves with rusty pubescence underneath.

Dwarf Wax-myrtle, Morella pumila, hidden in the grass

There is some controversy over this being a distinct species, however Weakley gives it species status. A southeastern coastal plain endemic.

Wet Pine Flatwoods/ Pond Pine Woodland habitat: Tag Alder, Alnus serrulata

Tag Alder is characteristic of wetter soils.

Pine Barrens Gentian (Gentiana autumnalis) with Creeping Blueberry (Vaccinium crassifolium)

Inconspicuous out of bloom and blooming in late fall when few are out looking for flowers, Pine Barren Gentian is an uncommon, and uncommonly welcome, sight. It grows in wet to dry soils, usually in association with Longleaf Pine. Creeping Blueberry is common in flatwood habitat and "nearly endemic to the Carolinas" (Weakley).

Inkberry, Ilex glabra

Inkberry has leaves with appressed crenate teeth near the tips; its look-alike, Large Gallberry (Ilex coriaceae), has leaves with a few bristle-like teeth.

Deer's Tongue or Vanillaleaf, Carphephorus odoratissimus, in seed

The common names come from the large basal leaves' tongue shape and the presence of coumarin which has a vanilla-like fragrance.

Bottomland Forest Habitat: Swamp Red Bay, Persea palustris

Swamp Red Bay differs from Red Bay (P. borbonia) by its hairy twigs and leaf undersides. It is a host plant for the beautiful Palamedes Swallowtail. Perseas are dying from a fungus spread by an Asian beetle.

Calico Aster, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum

Baldcypress knees, Taxodium distichum

The knees of Baldcypress occur only when it is growing in water and are thought to stabilize the tree.

Mayberry, Vaccinium elliottii

Mayberry blooms and fruits very early. The flame red fall color is gorgeous against its green twigs.

Levee forest habitat with Baldcypress and American Holly

Levee Forest habitat is dominated by various wetland oaks, River Birch, and Sweetgum, often including Baldcypress as here. American Hollies, Ilex opaca, are a characteristic part of the subcanopy.

Witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana

Witchhazel blooms from October to December and is pollinated by winter moths.

Titi, Cyrilla racemiflora

This beautiful wetlands plant holds its dried inflorescences all winter, making identification easy.

Coral Greenbrier, Smilax walteri

Pond Pine, Pinus serotina

Swamp Chestnut Oak, Quercus michauxii

Leaves are widest 2/3 of the way to the tip and have a wavy-toothed edge. The bark varies but often has flat-topped plates flaking away on the sides or in long, peeling strips.

Swamp Rose hips, Rosa palustris

Parsley Hawthorn, Crataegus marshallii

Thanks to Alistair for his teaching skills and knowledge of native plants!  We learned from him why native plants are well worth seeking out in the late fall.

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