This past month has been a busy one for the New England Seeds of Success team, we have just reached 140 seed collections! These marks puts us at 70% of the way done to reaching our goal of 200 collections by the end of November. In order to reach this point we have been on the move traveling to collection sites up and down the coast from Maine to Rhode Island. We have been spending a lot of time in the salt marshes and are starting to smell like one too.
In the process of organizing and drying the large amount of seed collections
Monarch Caterpillar feeding on a Milkweed leaf
Monarch butterfly eggs on the underside of a Milkweed leaf
Last month we had the opportunity to be interviewed by Sam Evans-Brown with the New Hampshire Public Radio. We spent the morning with Sam at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge collecting the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and explaining the goals and collection procedure of the Seeds of Success Program. For more information about our interview check out the following link. http://nhpr.org/post/why-common-nh-plant-seeds-are-being-socked-away-vault
As you can imagine, we have collected seeds from a variety of plant species so far and each different plant requires a unique method of collection. For example, the spice bush (Lindera benzoin) requires the pluck method, salt marsh cordgrass (Spartian alterniflora) involves the use of a sickle, where as most sedges and grasses require a grab and pull method. My personal favorite seed to collect is from the switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), due to the easiness and state of satisfaction you receive when pulling seed off of it’s panicle inflorescence. Before making a collection we first have to take a closer look at the seed to determine if it is ripe. In this process I enjoy observing the minute details of each seed and have realized there is amazing diversity of seed design among each species.
Windy day at Plum Island National WIldlife Refuge, Newburyport MA
It has been nice and warm in New England through out the month of September. As the month of October has come, the temperatures have become much colder with rainy conditions. This may be the point in time we trade in our t-shirts for hoodies and jackets.
Cheers to the Fall!
Recently the New England SOS team and myself had the opportunity to travel up to a Bog. We headed to the Foster Point Bog, which was located near Waterville Maine. Our Mission was to survey plant populations and determine if plant populations are large enough to collect seed from. After you enter into a bog such as this, your life is changed! As we stepped onto the sphagnum mat, it felt as if we were stepping onto a floor of pillows. As we moved through the Bog we found ourselves surrounded by Pitcher plants with strange flowers towering towards the sky.
Sarracenia purpurea in flower
Pitcher of Sarracenia purpurea
Before this experience the closest I’ve been to a bog was in my college biology classroom where we would study these unique ecosystems via power point slides and scientific papers. We learned about the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea (Purple Pitcher Plant) and how they have modified their leaves to capture insects. Evolving these carnivorous pitchers allows the pitcher plant to thieve in nutrient poor ecosystems. Once insects are captured inside the pitcher of S. purpurea acidic serrations and enzymes are produced, which are accompanied by bacteria. This concoction inside the pitcher actively breaks down the captured prey into nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen, that can then be taken up by the plant.
After reading the other CLM interns blog posts, I’ve discovered that everyone has been placed in some amazing locations throughout the U.S. I find myself in the city of Boston working for the East coast Seeds of Success (SOS) program, where I am stationed out of the New England Wild Flower Society. It is my first time in Boston and so far I love it here. Whenever I am traveling through the city I always seem find a new quaint area to hang out or find a new ethic restaurant with delicious food. Boston is also in a central location that will allow me to escape for the weekend from the intense traffic and fast paced city life. I am less than a days drive to a variety of beautiful retreats, including the White Mountains, Adirondack mountains, Acadia National park, and Stowe Vermont… all places I wish to see while living in Boston.
More then a mouth ago all the East Coast Seeds of Success interns and mentors met in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for our training. The training was hosted by the NC botanic gardens, who provided us with a great classroom for our training and did a wonderful job feeding us! I enjoyed learning about the history of the SOS program and discovering that this will be the first year for the East coast to be involved with the program. It was great meeting the other 14 East coast interns who all have their own unique stories of how they’ve become interested in plant conservation. I am thankful to have landed such a great internship where I can continue to learn about conservation / ecology while working with a great group of people!
James working to identify some grasses
Over the pass month my fellow New England interns and I have been calling and emailing project leaders of coastal restoration projects funded through the Sandy Supplemental Mitigation Fund. Since the SOS East program is just getting off the ground, it is important for us to make connections with project leaders and land owners so we can determine what seeds are needed for restoration projects and secondly so we can gain permission from land owners to collect seeds within their property.
Flowering SunDew (Drosera intermedia) found while surveying at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island.
Location in New England that we have visited so far
Enjoying the nice breeze among the vibrant Spartina patens.
As of now we have visited 17 sites through out the New England states. The majority of the sites have been coastal salt marshes, with exceptions being riparian areas related to dam removals. At all these sites we have began surveying and identifying species that we could possibly collect seeds from. This process includes a lot of time with the dichotomous key and plant identification books (have grown quite fond of the Sedges of Maine book). Keying out species has been great practice to get us familiar with the plant species at our collection sites. At this point in time we have made two seed collections: one of Triglochin maritima (Seaside Arrow-grass) and the other Carex scoparia (Pointed Broom Sedge). I am excited to collect more seeds in the up coming months as more species’ fruit begin to ripen.
That all for now, Cheers
A home of a wood gnome. You never know what you will find in the woods….