poetry and prose about place

a botany club excursion

with 9 comments

Earlier this summer, we went on a hike with other members of a local botany club to the Cranberry Lake Protected Natural Area, an area protected for its extensive forest community of Red Oak and Red Maple.

The New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources website describes the Cranberry Lake Protected Natural Area as follows:

An extensive Red Oak forest community. Predominantly Red Oak – Red Maple association. Red Oak make up a large percentage of the regeneration, most likely the Oak component will increase as the stand matures. The individual trees are impressive size.
This type of forest is rare in New Brunswick.

The woods were open with a thick understory of Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn, var. latiusculum (Desv.) Underw. ex A. Heller), Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), Common Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule Aiton) and some of the other species of the Canadian Element associated with woodlands in the Maritimes (see my post for April 30, 2012, Trailing Arbutus, ).

My husband standing in the thick growth of Bracken… it was about waist-height… he says he was standing in a hole!

It was so much fun working with the other botanists and enthusiasts to identify the various species we encountered.  The plant lists prepared during the day will be part of an effort by Nature New Brunswick to update a database of Environmentally Significant Areas in New Brunswick.  During my years of work, I was privileged to work on the development and use of this database.

I saw many familiar species during the hike, but I was so excited to see three plants I have not seen in a while.

I renewed my acquaintance with Witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana L. (notice the asymmetrical shape of the leaves)…

and Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica Nutt.), identifiable by its thick oval leaves, longer than the leaf-stalks or petioles…

a single plant of Shinleaf, with its straight stem of small creamy flowers, growing among Blueberry, and Red Maple and Red Oak seedlings

I also was introduced to a plant I thought I had never seen before, Cow-wheat (Melampyrum lineare Lam., a branchy variety found in dry woods).  When I looked it up in my Flora, though, I found a notation to say I had seen this plant in the summer of 1984.    It is always good to record the plants you see and identify!

While there, we saw a perfect example of the interaction of species.  A bright orange fungus, known as Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), growing on an aged Red Oak, was being consumed by a horde of slugs.


A hike with a group is a great way to expand your knowledge and boost your confidence.  Everyone benefits from the knowledge of the various participants, and being with like-minded people is good for the soul!

©  Jane Tims  2012

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

9 Responses

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  1. It looks like such a beautiful place. The Witch Hazel looks familiar. I’m going to have to take a walk back to our woods and see if that’s why. I would love to be able to go on a walk or hike with a botanist or naturalist who could help me identify the plants in my area. 🙂



    August 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    • Hi. I’ll be right over (I wish). Let me know if you find the Witch-hazel. Jane


      jane tims

      August 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      • I wish you could stop by too! I did not find the Witch Hazel, but will keep looking. 🙂



        August 15, 2012 at 10:09 am

  2. Very interesting! I’m always looking at forest undergrowth and wondering what’s growing there.


    Watching Seasons

    August 10, 2012 at 10:32 am

    • Hi. And every forest is so different… there is usually a group of recognisable plants and, sometimes, one or two unique to that area. Thanks for your comment! Jane


      jane tims

      August 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

  3. Looks like you had lots of fun! Was there a lot of bugs? (yes … I know … I am fixated by dose dim darn bugs!) Nice shot of the Shinleaf btw … nice lighting. We verified again and there are no blueberries here anymore. We were definitely robbed by a wandering bear….unless of course our neighbor raided us in the middle of the night!



    August 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    • Hi. It was a relatively bug-free day. My photos in general were better that day and we think it was because it was cloudy. Too bad about your berries, but the bear is happy! Jane


      jane tims

      August 10, 2012 at 6:44 am

  4. What a great post. I have to tell you, a friend asked me to identify Witch-hazel… they had a tree of it growing in their back field and the variety of leaf shapes had them really guessing. The minute I saw it I told him what it was… so it’s an old friend of mine from a way back… I learned about it when I was very young.

    I also had a marvelous chance to go on a field trip with an naturalist/botanist this last summer. It is great to learn these things with people who are as interested as you are so you can linger over your finds and explore them for their mysteries. At the end of our day she had made teas from various things we encountered. I may never have another chance to do that so this post of yours is a real treat… here I am doing it vicariously through your experience. Many thanks.


    Merrill Gonzales

    August 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    • Hi Merrill. Thank you so much for your insightful comments and your interest in the out-of-doors. The discovery of ‘new’ plants and the exploration of their characteristics is what got me interested in botany in the first place. Jane


      jane tims

      August 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

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