Sunday, July 6, 2014

Impromptu Visit to Jack Johnston's Otto Property

"It is always a pleasure and a stimulating learning experience to go out with Jack and I, once again, came home with plants. My Royal Ferns are planted and still alive. Jack says they are quite hardy so maybe I won't kill them. Jack is potting more cuttings from stewartia and by next summer will be looking for people interested in planting them. Jack showed us his plantings on his property and how successful they are so we got an idea of the light requirements and soil for them." Karen Lawrence

 "I was lucky enough to spend the whole day with Jack - beginning with the search for the rare Stewartia ovata in the wild, sponsored by LTLT. I've been on this annual walk at least five times and there's something new each year. This year we climbed up the bank beyond Needmore Road to discover a "grove" of Stewartia - very encouraging. Later Jack trimmed a Stewartia on the Bradshaw property that extended into the road and shared cuttings - and detailed instructions for rooting - with us. We ended the morning with a visit to Brent and Angela Martin's garden to see their mature Stewartias - from Jack's tiny seedlings - in full and glorious bloom. There's evidence of Jack all around their wonderful garden: Stewartia malacodendron which had already bloomed, Franklinia and several species of Magnolia, among others. The visit to Jack's Otto property was inspiring. It was wonderful to see the many Stewartias he's planted that are thriving, and his discussion about habitat requirements gave me the courage to think about trying them again. Of course Jack has also filled this beautiful wooded property with Magnolias (60+ varieties), unusual conifers and other rare specimens. It's a living laboratory - and shows us how we can help Nature along with preserving these amazing gifts." Jean Hunnicutt

 Several of us were able to make the impromptu visit to Jack Johnston's Otto property. What a treat! As anyone who knows Jack would expect, this 9 acre tract of land is a smorgasboard of botanical treats. Here is Jack's list of what is currently existing on the property. Deciduous conifers: Pseudolarix Mexican cypress Bald cypress Pond cypress Dawn redwood Evergreen: Atlantic white cedar Fall color: Nyssa biflora Stewartias: S. malacodendron S. ovata Magnolias native to site: M. fraseri M. acuminata Personally, I was mesmerized by the expanse of ferns: Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern), Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern), Osmunda regalis (Royal fern), Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern), Athyrium asplenioides (Lady fern) and Dennstaedtis punctilobula (Hay scented fern). It is my goal to duplicate the look at my house.

 Jack also gave us directions on obtaining seeds from Magnolia fraseri:

 Seeds of Magnolia fraseri are desired for northern European gardens due to the tropical look of the leaves and hardiness of the species. Seeds are collected before falling from the trees and this date is late August for most locations. Some high elevation areas may be a week later. The procedure for handling seeds is to cut the mature fruits from the tree with extension pruners which typically reach only the lowest ones. M. fraseri tends to set fruits heavily in full sun at the top of the trees. Three days of drying dehydrates the fruits and makes manual removal of the orange seeds easier. A float test in water determines how many heavy ones sink. These are the keepers. The floaters are discarded. The seeds remain in water for 2 days, have seed coats removed, are washed in a drop of liquid dish detergent, dried for 30 minutes then stored in slightly damp peat in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. If magnolia seeds dry out, viability is quickly lost. If storage is too wet this is not good either. Following storage until spring, the seeds are planted after danger of frost is past. A well draining mix is needed since M. fraseri is the easiest of the native magnolias to rot in pots. Supply of properly cleaned and stored seeds never meets demand. Botanical gardens request them through a seed exchange program sponsored by The Magnolia Society.























Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Recap of our Reed Branch Wet Meadow Preserve and Eller Seeps Field Trip with Carrie Radcliffe

Reed Branch is truly unique as far as "bogs" go in North Georgia. It is much more like a Coastal Plain bog in that it is a seepage system. The difference is that there is much more organic matter and surface flow to support the deeper, peaty soils associated with mountain bogs. The shallow bedrock supports the movement of water just under the surface, even when the top layers don't appear to be very wet. This site contains a unique assemblage of plant species from multiple regions and habitats, including the Coastal Plain, northern wetlands, and prairies. The site has been burned 8 times in the past 16 years by The Nature Conservancy folks in Georgia, which has restored the drier portion of the site into a gorgeous prairie meadow!
At Eller Seeps there was less diversity, probably due to less intensive management, but the hydrology seemed more stable. They have a healthy population of Canada burnette (Sanguisorba canadensis), which is rare for Georgia. Apparently crossing the state line into North Carolina makes it a much more common plant! These 2 sites are only a mile or two apart, but are very different. Both hold 1 of the only 5 populations of green pitcher plant, and is beautiful in its own unique way. The Nature Conservancy in NC was monitoring their green pitcher plant population, and we were able to help them with this task.  Carrie Radcliffe 
From Julie Ross:  A small but hardy band braved the heat to learn about bogs, pitcher plants, and how these valuable areas are being saved. With the help of Botanists Carrie Radcliffe and Mincy Moffett, I learned more than I expected. We had the added treat of Dr. Kathy Mathews. the Director of the WCU Herbarium as part of our Botany Braintrust for the day!  
    
    One of the first things I learned is that the word "bog" can mean several different things. There was the bog we visited last year -- where the mud was up to your knees at times. The bog was off to itself and seemed to be some ancient area, hostile to human incursions.
But the Meadow Seep bog was different. There was no mud to speak of where we went that morning. There were houses all around and we were only yards off the highway. We were at the Georgia side of the border with North Carolina, where the protected property abuts a lake and belongs to The Nature Conservancy of Georgia.

    After a walk through brambles and hornets' nests, as well as burned-off maple trees and alder trees, we found sundews. One large clump of sundews was even blooming for us! It makes you realize that whole worlds can be right under your nose -- or under your feet, if you don't look carefully. Then we came to the pitcher plants -- no danger of walking on them as they stood about 12 or 18 inches high. The plants grow very slowly, and can take 20 years to reach the heights we saw. According to Mincy, cows don't eat pitcher plants but bears and hogs do. We saw what a struggle the native pitcher plants have to survive even if there are no hogs and bears. They are being crowded out by other plants and dug up by unfeeling amateurs.
    Next we drove to Eller Seep, a small piece of land in North Carolina that is owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of North Carolina. Once again we were surrounded by houses and only slightly off the driveways. The land was only saved because the native pitcher plant was found on it. At the seep we were met by Adam Warwick and his assistant Kat, who were hard at work counting pitcher plants. Their object was to see if the pitcher plants were more numerous than they were in the census of 2008. The property was divided into transects, and then Adam had to clear off the taller woody plants so the pitcher plants could be seen and counted. Much to Adam and Kat's delight, SAPS stepped up to the plate and agreed to help out with the census. And to everyone's delight, there were more pitcher plants in certain areas.  I think we all felt a sense of accomplishment when thunder boomed and we called things off for the day. 
From Katherine Mathews--
A group of seven of us joined field biologists Carrie Radcliffe and Mincy Moffett on a warm, sunny day to observe the federally endangered green pitcher plant (Sarracenia oreophila) – affectionately referred to by Carrie as “oreos” – at the Reed Branch Wet Meadow Preserve adjacent to Lake Chatuge in Georgia. Despite its name as a wet meadow, the grassy site was particularly dry that day, so we did not get our feet wet. Carrie explained the significance of the site and the conservation efforts, such as frequent burning, which are being undertaken, while she and Mincy identified all the flowering species we observed. Botanically speaking, we hit the jackpot on this trip. Swamp rose (Rosa palustris) was blooming prolifically along the upper edges of the meadow, where we entered from the road. An unusual monocot plant with tall, white flower spikes known as colic-root (Aletris farinosa) abounded throughout the meadow. As we walked toward the lake, we were treated to rare plants specific to this habitat, such as the delicate, orange-yellow, pea-shaped pencil-flower (Stylosanthes biflora), the unusual and fragrant narrow-leaf mountain mint (Pycnathemum tenuifolium), and yellow bog-candles (Lysimachia terrestris), as well as a tiny pink milkwort known as the procession flower (Polygala incarnata), best appreciated when viewed under a hand lens.
As we got to the center of the meadow, we made our first “oreo” sightings. At first, the tall, green, hooded pitchers were in scattered clumps, but our leaders shepherded us toward the edge of the lake where the greatest number of plants were found. Carrie explained that some of these were transplants and, to our amazement, could take up to ten years to flower. We found many of these older plant clumps in flower, as well as some babies – miniature pitchers only about five years old. Also near the water’s edge, with our noses to the ground, we spotted delicate spoonleaf sundews (Drosera intermedia) and the tiny, blue savanna eryngo (Eryngium integrifolium).
Afterward, we crossed the state line into North Carolina to visit the Eller Seeps preserve and work with TNC biologist Adam Warwick.   The Eller site was a bit wetter, but more grown up with woody vegetation than the Reed Branch site, and also contained a large population of green pitcher plants. In addition, we spotted more carnivorous plants in bloom, including sundews in flower and a bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta) with its showy, yellow flowers. We also saw the common ten-angled pipewort (Eriocaulon decangulare). After a bit of exploration, we divided into groups to help count pitcher plant clumps and individual pitchers in the plots set up by Adam and his assistant. It was arduous work – sometimes a “clump” spread over 5 meters and contained hundreds of pitchers – and gave me an appreciation for the time and effort it takes to protect and conserve these endangered plants and their habitats.

Here is a list of what we saw blooming:
Aletris farinosa - northern white colic-root                                                                  
Apocynum cannabinum - hemp dogbane
Asclepias tuberosa - butterfly milkweed
Drosera rotundifolia - roundleaf sundew
Erigeron strigosus - common rough fleabane
Eryngium integrifolium - savanna eryngo
Eupatorium rotundifolium - roundleaf eupatorium 
Lysimachia terrestris - bog candles (rare)
Oenothera fruticosa - sundrops
Polygala incarnata - procession flower (new find for this site)
Pycnathemum tenuifolium - narrowleaf mountain mint (rare)
    Rosa palustrus - swamp rose 
Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)
Scutellaria integrifolia - helmet flower
Seriocarpus linifolius - narrow-leaf white-topped aster
Stylosanthes biflora - pencil-flower
The amazing shots below were submitted by Karen Lawrence.  (The rest are submitted by me, Kathy Stilwell)

Reed Branch Wet Meadow Preserve

Dr. Mincy J. Moffett, Botanist, Georgia DNR Non-game Conservation Section


Aletris farinosa - northern white colic-root 
Apocynum cannabinum - hemp dogbane
 Eryngium integrifolium - blue savanna eryngo

Asclepias tuberosa - butterfly milkweed
Drosera rotundifolia - roundleaf sundew

bloom of Drosera rotundifolia - roundleaf sundew
Eriocaulon compressum - Hatpins

Eupatorium rotundifolium - roundleaf eupatorium 

Lysimachia terrestris - bog candles (rare)

Oenothera fruticosa - sundrops
Polygala curtissii - Curtis's milkwort
Polygala incarnata - procession flower (new find for this site)
Polygala incarnata - procession flower (new find for this site)
Pycnathemum tenuifolium - narrowleaf mountain mint (rare)

 Rosa palustrus - swamp rose 
Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)
Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)
Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)
Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)
Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)
Bloom of Sarracenia oreophila forming fruit within- green pitcher plant (endangered)
Bloom of Sarracenia oreophila forming fruit within - green pitcher plant (endangered)

Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)

Babies of Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered) 

Seriocarpus linifolius - narrow-leaf white-topped aster
Scutellaria integrifolia - helmet flower
Scutellaria integrifolia - helmet flower
Utriculatia - bladderwort













Eller Seeps

Adam Warwick, Stewardship Manager, The Nature Conservancy North Carolina








Counting the population of Sarracenia oreophila - green pitcher plant (endangered)