Today I went on a little outing after work, since I get out of
work early on Fridays (since my hours were cut at work a few weeks
The ride from my work over to Batsto is always a beautiful scenic
one. I went to the church and cemetery at Batsto, mentioned in an
earlier post. I was walking up and down the entrance road to the
church, looking at the old pine trees. Earlier this year those trees
had me puzzled. Reason being, I always thought, and assumed, that
they were Pitch Pines. But they have tiny cones. Well the tiny cones
indicate that they are Shortleaf Pines. I had never thought too much
about that until this past winter. Apparently when Shortleaf Pines
get old they are nearly identical in appearance to Pitch Pines.
While walking around I took notice of some pretty big ones too. I
found a few that are most definitely 6 ½ feet in CBH or more. My
personal record for Pitch Pine is 6' 10". These are smaller than
that, but not by much. Underneath one of these trees there were some
cross sections of logs that someone had dumped there some time ago.
One log section had pine tree
seedlings growing in its cracks. That was very cool.
Afterwords I carefully walked around in the cemetery (trying not
to step on cactus). The cemetery has a lot of prickly pear cactus,
reindeer lichen, teaberry, and some kind of hawkweed that has
red-veined basal leaves. The flower stalks are kind of delicate
compared to those of other hawkweeds. There was also another species
of hawkweed there, as well as Maryland Golden Aster, which of course
blooms in the Fall. There are several older Post Oak trees there. A
couple of them are very healthy, while a couple others don't look
that great. There are two Eastern Hemlocks also. Physically they are
very similar to each other. Both had two trunks at one time. But
both had one trunk cut off some time ago. Both also have broken
tops. But for some reason one of the trees is dead and one of them
is very healthy (with no signs of HWA).
After I was done in the cemetery I went elsewhere in Wharton
State Forest and found a Pinesap plant. It's the first Pinesap I've
ever seen. I rarely have firsts anymore, but that was one. Pinesap
is somewhat similar in growth habit and appearance to Indian Pipes.
I say somewhat similar. One difference is that Pinesap is orange-ish
in color. The flowers are shaped differently also. Anyway it was
really cool to see one for the first time. I also checked out two
very healthy and vigorous populations of Pickering's Morning Glory,
one of our rarest plants. The rarest plants in New Jersey that I can
think of are Pickering's Morning Glory, Conrad's Broom-crowberry,
Swamp Pink lily, and Southern Yellow Orchid, the latter being the
only one of the four that I've never been able to find. And of
course I cannot divulge their exact locations on a public forum. But
anyway, I love photographing rare plants.
Next I drove to a dirt road in Wharton State Forest called
Washington Turnpike (it passes by the ghost town of Washington).
Along that road I passed by two damp areas where there were
blueberries growing wild. I photographed some of them. Some had
berries that were similar in color and size to the cultivated
blueberries that are grown all over our Pine Barrens. These ones
were as tall as 7 or 8 feet. Others had berries that were more black
than blue, and smaller. These bushes were as tall as 9 to 10 feet.
The two species (or varieties) were growing side by side, sometimes
with their branches intertwined with each other. Besides the berries
being different, the leaves were slightly different in appearance. I
don't know how tall any of them are supposed to get to, but the
heights I found were personal records for me.
While I was trying to photograph the blueberries I was having
trouble with the battery in my camera. The last time I went out I
took so many pictures and used the camera so much, that I killed two
batteries in one day. But I only charged one of them, and completely
forgot the other. Today when my first battery ran out, the second
one was already nearly dead. I kept taking pictures till my
batteries were so low that neither of them would take pictures
So that's it. Naturally I really enjoyed being out, and taking the
Oh, I almost forgot. The last thing I did was I went to Hammonton
and visited the Blueberry Factory, the shop that provided the
locally-produced blueberry iced tea for the blueberry festival this
past Sunday. I turns out that they brought their entire stock of
blueberry iced tea to the festival, so when it ran out, they had no
more to sell. They've got more on order from the grower or
cooperative or whoever it is that sells it to them. I was glad to
finally get there.
Also, an announcement was just made on my Yahoo group that the
blueberry documentary I've been waiting for is finally out. It's
called The Mighty Humble Blueberry, and is available on DVD from
http://www.aboutblueberries.com/ I will have to get one soon.
I don't post these trip reports in order to promote products and
services, but sometimes it seems appropriate to mention local stuff
like this. I'm a big fan of our local cranberry and blueberry
farming economy, since both berries are native to our Pine Barrens,
and the farming of both is huge here.