Despite our rough start, we made it out to the Delmarva Peninsula last week, and managed to get a fair amount of scouting in for our SOS seed collections.
After only about 140 miles from our start at the NC Botanical Garden on Monday morning, we stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire. Changing a flat on a truck is really no different from changing one on a small car, but at first we had trouble finding the spare. Once we located it under the truck (who knew?) we got it lowered, jacked up the truck, and replaced the tire. We all took turns using the jack, which for some reason was made in such a way that with every turn, the hook came out of the loop. I don’t know cars well enough to give a better description than that, but in the end, it made a simple job just a little bit tougher. Here are some pictures of the flat:
Our first stop was at the Great Dismal Swamp, and as the name suggests, there is something very dismal about it. The water barely moves, so the mosquitoes were out in full force! I had on a mosquito net over my hat to protect my face, and we all drenched ourselves in bug spray. We did see a lot of potential at this site, however there was nothing ready to be collected in a large enough quantity for our purposes. We did see some Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay) there, but by far not enough to collect. There were also really pretty legume flowers that I photographed.
That evening we ate dinner at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant and grocery store called El Crucero Tienda y Taquería. They had amazing, freshly made food. Unfortunately we were too hungry to stop and take pictures, but I had Huaraches (look it up if you’re not familiar – the pictures are mouth-watering) and Emily got Pupusas. Maggie and Lauren both got a vegetarian version of Fajitas, or something similar – I can’t remember exactly. I was entranced by my meal!
We saw a beautiful sunset from our hotel room in Pocomoke City, MD, and rested up for the next day.
We started off not too far from our hotel at Nassawango Creek Preserve where we saw lots of potential for the upcoming months in seed collection for species such as Rhexia mariana (Maryland Meadowbeauty) and Asclepias sp. (we saw a few), as well as populations of species like Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry) that are definitely large enough to sample from next summer.
Next was Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. We ran into some trouble identifying species of the genus Eleocharis, since a microscope is essential for differentiating between minute details in the structure of the tiny nutlets. We also saw Schoenoplectus americanus (Chairmaker’s Bulrush) and a slew of other sedges and rushes on a section of the Refuge on the side of the road. In another area, we saw tons of Typha angustifolia (Narrowleaf Cattail) among other species on our list. We made a collection of Schoenoplectus pungens (Common Three-square), though it cost us $3 per vehicle to enter that section of the Refuge.
We’re finding that both Maryland and Virginia love taking money from people, be it by way of toll roads, bridges, National Forests, Nation Wildlife Refuges… you name it. Luckily our native North Carolina doesn’t charge us to enter any preserve nor to cross any bridge or use any road. To add to that, NC sites don’t seem to lack at all in quality, ease of navigation, helpfulness of rangers, etc. I’m a big fan of NC!
Next we visited (or tried to visit) Choptank Wetlands. The highlight of that visit was a sighting of a few Bald Eagles. Due to the fact that the only access road into the wetland was a road cutting through private property, and that we don’t own a boat, canoe, or kayak, we weren’t able to actually visit the site. However, on the way there we saw fields full of Hibiscus moscheutos (Crimsoneyed Rosemallow) and Kosteletzkya virginica (Virginia Saltmarsh Mallow), both of which we hope to be able to collect in the near future.
Our visit to Battle Creek Cypress Swamp was an enjoyable one, and we hope to return in the fall to collect Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress) and other species. We only made two collections this trip, but we got a lot of scouting out of the way!
Till next time!