My Pine Barrens outing (July 3), NJ Barry Caselli
July 3, 2009


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 ago).
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 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 anymore.
So that's it. Naturally I really enjoyed being out, and taking the pictures.

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 this website: 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.

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