Today I decided to visit the Spring Hill Plains, one of our pine
plain or pygmy pine areas. We have four such areas- The East Plains,
the West Plains, the Little Plains and the Spring Hill Plains. The
Spring Hill and Little Plains are both small areas. Combined these 4
areas form the largest acreage of dwarf pitch pine in the world. The
next largest is the pymy pine area in the Long Island (NY) Pine
I haven't been to Spring Hill in a while, so I just decided to go up
there. I found the trees there to be 7 to 8 feet tall, with a few 10
footers, but also many 3 to 4 footers. (Further north, in the East
and West Plains, the trees are about 4 feet tall on average, or
maybe 5.) Tree trees are twisted and contorted. None of them is
straight. The trunks average about 4 inches in diameter, or maybe a
little less. The understory consists of either low-bush blueberry or
hucklberry. There were also a lot of blackjack oaks, and some were
taller than the pines. Down close to the ground I found the usual
pine barrens heather and reindeer lichen, but also some pyxie, which
is rather uncommon. Down on lower ground, before getting up on
Spring Hill, I found tons of mountain laurel and lots of sand
myrtle. I've never seen so much sand myrtle in one place as I saw
there. Also, a couple different times while driving along on the
dirt roads, I saw a lizard cross the
road up ahead of me. That was really cool. Each time he was far
enough ahead of me that I couldn't have run over him. There was no
chance of that. Previous to today I had never seen lizards cross the
road. I've seen them on tree trunks, old wood and in cemeteries.
Most of the area I was in today, except on Spring Hill itself, is in
Penn State Forest.
Penn is an undeveloped state forest, with no facilities, no office
and no staff or workers. Why it exists as a separate entity from
other surrounding state forests I have no idea. It's only 3366
acres, so it's pretty small compared to the others also. It's
surrounded by nearly pure pitch pine forest in private land,
interspersed with commercial cranberry bogs.
The pymy pines are fantastic. I wish I lived a little closer to
them. I clocked the distance at a little over 21 miles, the last 3.5
or 4 miles on dirt roads. I'd go more often if it was closer. I'll
post some of my pictures later. I can't wait to check them out and
then share them. I know I still have to send some from yesterday
I have narrowed down the photos I took at the Spring Hill Plains to
10. I will send them in 2 messages. Here's part 1.
In numerical order of the filenames,
The first photo shows a typical view, with the ground going slightly
downhill and then slightly uphill in the distance. The trees here
are about 6 to 7 feet tall.
Next photo: the sub-shrub, Common Bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Next photo: another typical view. The trees here are also about 6 to
7 feet tall. The oaks are Blackjack Oak.
Next photo: a view below the canopy, with the camera about 12 to 18
inches above the ground.
Next photo: a view of serotinous cones on one of the trees. There is
a common misconception that all the pines in the dwarf forests have
nothing but serotinous cones. But that's not true. They have both
serotinous and non-serotinous cones. Serotinous cones are cones that
only open in the heat of a forest fire.
And if I didn't say it yet, all pines in the dwarf forests are Pitch
The last 5 pictures coming in the next message.
Here are the last 5 pictures.
In numerical order of the filenames, the first picture shows:
Another typical view, this time going slightly downhill and then
back up again. The changes in elevation really change the look
of the forest here.
Next picture: another view under the canopy with the camera
pretty close to the ground.
Next picture: a view downhill, looking towards the way I came.
The dirt road on the right is the one I came in on. You can see
for a few miles.
Next picture: a similar view, panning to the right a little. The
hill in the distance is most likely Bear Swamp Hill. There once
was a fire tower on that hill, but that was before I came to
Next picture: The sub-shrub, Sand Myrtle, Leiophyllum buxifolium.
All the sand myrtle was found on lower ground before going up
Here's a map of the location:
If you zoom in just a little bit you'll see the short little
road that I drove on to go up the hill. That's a little bit
south/southeast of the marker on the map.
The whole area is basically wilderness, except for the dirt
roads I guess.