September was awesome. We can definitely feel the fall breeze in the air already, especially up north! We started with a four-day trip to Eastern Neck NWR, Blackwater NWR, Chincoteague NWR, and Brownsville Preserve within Virginia and Maryland. My favorite part of this trip was collecting Tripsacum dactyloides. Don’t ask why. I can’t explain it myself. Maybe it’s just the fact that the seeds could be used to make maracas? Anyway, this trip was absolutely filled with mosquitos. No matter how much bug repellant was used, no matter how many layers we worn, they were vicious and unforgiving. But we persevered! The worst place was Chincoteague NWR on the Delmarva Peninsula. We made four collections there of Borrichia frutescens, Fimbristylis castanea, Typha angustifolia, and Cyperus odoratus.
Beautiful sunset at Eastern Neck NWR.
Tripsacum dactyloides. Such a beautiful, fun grass!
Salicornia depressa turning a wonderful shade of red at Chincoteague NWR.
Wild horses at Chincoteague NWR!
Our next trip was a short 2 day trip to Merchant’s Millpond, First Landing State Park, False Cape State Park, and North Landing River Preserve. Merchant’s Millpond was a bust – BUT – it’s a bald-cypress swamp, so that’s a given that it is absolutely gorgeous. We went looking for Lindera benzoin, and while there was a big enough population of it, there were no fruits. Luckily, we were with a really great ranger who was helping us around and even helped us look through the forest! What a guy. First Landing helped us make up for the lack of collections at Merchants. We collected Uniola paniculata, Panicum amarum, and Fimbristylis castanea.
Callicarpa americana at Merchant’s Millpond.
Monotropa uniflora at Merchant’s Millpond. My second siting ever 🙂
I have to say, I was so jealous going to False Cape. We collected more Uniola paniculata there, but the maritime forest makes me so happy. There were camping spots and a trail that leads out to the dunes that were filled with seaoats just flowing in the wind. And sorry, but my romantic side came out when I saw this adorable couple – with the whole beach to themselves – sitting out on the beach together, drawing the ocean. WHAT. Drawing the ocean. Adorable. I would recommend anyone to go to this place – you cannot drive in, however. Which kind of gives the place more charm 🙂
Dunes and Uniola paniculata at False Cape State Park.
The last trip we went on was the first week of October and was just Sammy and myself. We headed to Gunpowder Falls SP, Rocks SP, Elk Neck SP, Tuckahoe SP, Blackwater NWR, Chincoteague NWR, and Brownsville. When I think of this trip, I think of Jamaican food (the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had in my life, yes, from a Jamaican restaurant), snakes, apples, and rushed collections! It was a super productive and fun week for Sammy and I. We made 14 collections, which is more than I’ve ever made in a trip – even when we had the whole group together! We found a wonderful population of Ilex verticillata at Gunpowder Falls State Park – Hammerman Beach. We got bummed when we were first there because we were surrounded by seas of phragmites, but we coincidentally found something awesome (and I’m not talking about the mammalian skulls – yeah)! Our next stop, Rocks State Park, is SO PRETTY. I mean, we went there for a population of Leersia that was already done seeding, but hey, that’s okay! Because Elk Neck provided us LOTS of collections! And snakes! I loved collecting Parthenocissus quinquefolia. Pretty berries 🙂 We were also able to collect Schizachyrium scoparium, Tridens flavus, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, and Panicum anceps. Next was Tuckahoe SP, which is always fun because KAYAKING – we collected Rosa palustris there. We were able to make a collection of Spartina patens at Blackwater NWR, which was great! And to end the trip, we made some cyperus collections at Chincoteague, along with Fuirena pumila, Tridens flavus, Schizachyrium scoparium, and Cenchrus tribuloides! Sammy and I were kind of afraid of cenchrus (for obvious – pointy – reasons), but the collection went really smoothly! If you remember to bring some gloves with you, it’s actually easy-breezy! We will have to collect more seeing that they are single seeded, and we still had one other stop before home. We ended up not getting done that day until 8:30, but I can’t say I was at all disappointed with my week!!
Fall is in the air at Rocks State Park in northern Maryland!
Rocks State Park, MD.
Sometimes you drive 6 hours to get to a population that is already done seeding, like this Leersia, and that’s OK!!
Rock State Park was too pretty 🙂
A kayak filled with spiders… probably my worst nightmare.
This turtle was watching me paddle by at Tuckahoe State Park.
Some spiranthes Sammy and I saw at Chincoteague NWR!
Trip planning with the group. The usual faces of my team, haha. Minus Sammy!
When we weren’t out seed collecting, my time was spent mainly seed cleaning, but also getting maps for all of our permitted locations for collection that we were previously missing, and making sure all of our map bags were well equipped – this included emailing a lot of people to get shapefiles for their areas! Also, I’ve been getting together the herbarium specimens for the Smithsonian (SO EXCITING) and the UNC Herbarium (NCU). I also helped out with set up for the Fall Native Plant Sale and our home institution – NCBG. It was a LOT of work. My arms were sore the next day from carrying so many plants! I loved it though. Everyone that works at the garden is really great. It’s a shame we don’t get to be around them more often since we are always gone on trips!
Phytolacca americana seeds that I cleaned – they are just as cool as the berries/plants themselves!
It’s been a great past month. With only about a month and a half left, I feel a bit rushed to figure out what is going to come next! Time has gone by so fast. I’m going to try my best to make the most of my time left while still trying to plan for the future!
Hope everyone has a great month! Happy Fall!!