Enjoying the Botany of the Watershed

We had our first Native Plant Walk with the Maryland Native Plant Society (MNPS) on Saturday at Fort Dupont Park in SE Washington, DC! Our Conservation Biologist Jorge Bogantes Montero led the event with Mary Pat Rowan (MNPS) a Landscape Architect with extensive knowledge on local native plant species, Pat is particularly passionate about native trees and shrubs. At 10 AM Jorge and Mary started the trip at the park’s Activity Center with an enthusiastic group of four participants eager to learn about the native flora.

During the walk, the group trod through the central woodlands of the park west of the Activity Center. It started with the early successional forests of the Old Golf Course path (the area used to be a Golf Course in the mid 1900’s) where we saw some Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) shrubs and a young Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra). There, Mary showed the group how to chew the outer bark of the twigs to positively identify Slippery Elm from other Elm species. As the summer heat rampaged in the sparse young woodlands the group decided to head to the old growth rich woods right at the park’s heartland. The mature hardwood forests of the park have in average more than 65 years old, but a few oaks seem to overpass that timeframe. The older woods have an amazing array of plant species such as low bush blueberries, high bush blueberries, white oaks, chestnut oaks, red maples, false Solomon’s seals, maple-leaved viburnums, blackhaw viburnums, black gums, American witchhazels, and many other botanic jewels. We came across a couple of interesting species, the Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), a native parasitic species and the Spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), a tiny native evergreen herb that has a wide distribution in North and Central America. About ten new plant species were identified and will be added to the park’s plant checklist.

One of the participants, Mikhail (Misha) Sogonov a Russian mycologist (a mushroom specialist) saw the event as a great opportunity to show his 3-year old son, Alexander, the beauty of the outdoors. The little boy had a particularly comfortable riding his parent’s shoulder and exploring leaves, branches and the amazing woodland greenery unfolding before him. Misha became our 500th Facebook fan so he will get a free pontoon boat ride through the Anacostia River!

Don’t miss your opportunity to learn about native plants join our next native plant walk in fall, Saturday, October 16th from 10 AM to 2 PM at Fort Dupont Park. More info & to RSVP: http://www.anacostiaws.org/calendar/native-plant-walk-fort-dupont-park

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