poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Witch-hazel

a botany club excursion

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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.
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