A Year in the Life of Pimmit Run: Summer Solstice 2022

June brings the longest days, the hot sun, and the true arrival of summer. In the Pimmit Run Stream Valley, June expresses itself with an abundance of green growth. The blooms of June are somewhat diminutive, but, in a sea of green, they really stand out - no matter how small.

Let's begin in the floodplain meadow along Pimmit Run Stream Valley. It was razed by Dominion Power last fall, and this appears to have had a rejuvenating effect. The green growth is overwhelming, and many of our familiar native friends have returned, including lots of cheerful Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus). The bees and butterflies were having a bonanza among it.

Daisy Fleabane was spreading lots of sunny cheer

Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) and Deer-tongue (Dichanthelium clandestinum) were also widespread, and I saw lots of Goldenrod, Horse-nettle (Solanum carolinense), and many other welcome species popping up at earlier stages. It was a surprise to come across Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) in the meadow, which might be the result of fall seeding. This species includes botanical varieties that are natives as well as non-natives. Regardless, it is pollinator friendly and has wonderful medicinal value. (Below are pictured Dogbane, Deer-tongue, and Common Yarrow).

On to the welcome shade of the floodplain woodland trail. It was looking exceptionally GREEN.

A very lush and shady trail

The first native to visually announce itself was the Whorled Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia). Its small but bright yellow flowers cheered up the trailside. Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis) was not as easily seen, but there in abundance. Its flowers are very delicate and small and hover way above its leaves. It is host plant to the black swallowtail butterfly so especially welcome.

I came across several very odd-looking brown, crusty puff balls hanging from oak leaves. Turns out they are "Oak Apples," created by wasps that have laid eggs inside a leaf. The eggs create a gall with a tiny wasp larva inside. The gall turns brown when the egg has hatched. Apparently Oak Apples that form on leaves are not harmful to the tree and the wasps aren’t harmful to people. Its another oddity of the natural world and yet another example of how oak trees support biodiversity.

Cool find -- Oak Apple!

Clusters of Swamp Agrimony (Agrimonia parviflora) were apparent here and there, looking very fresh. This woodland native sports long yellow flowering spires in late summer, something to look forward to.

The Agrimony clusters were large and vibrant

The Woodland Lettuce (Lactuna floridus) was particularly rich even though it does not yet sport it's wonderful tiny blue flowers. It grows tall and freely just off the trail, and it was also easy to bypass. But the unusual pattern of its leaves was a giveaway. Now I know where to find it when it is time for it to bloom.

Woodland Lettuce looked good enough to eat!

Several ground layer natives, including American Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana) and Tick Trefoil (Genus Desmodium), were providing cover for the forest floor, but not yet in bloom. These natives will soon sport their white and lavender-colored flower spikes.

And there were ferns, ferns, ferns galore! They carpeted the floodplain floor and appeared in dense drifts all along the trail. New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), and Broad Beech Fern (Phegopteris hexagonoptera) were all present along the stream valley as well as the fairly ubiquitous Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides).

The deep fern carpets were almost too green to believe

Here is a typical woodland medley found along the trail, featuring New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), Indian Cucumber (Medeola virginiana), and White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata)

A delightful medley of fern and forb

A large variety of graminoids (grasses) were present along the trail. With so many possible species, they were extremely difficult to accurately identify, but here is a sample of the sorts observed.

Finally, along with the good is the disturbing: severe streambank destruction along Pimmit Run due to increased upstream impervious surfaces resulting in huge and ferocious runoff during storms. It is impossible to quantify the number of mature native trees lost due to this in recent years (see photo). . Nature will not heal this. Hoping that help for this extremely sensitive ecological area arrives before more trees are lost.

That's it for June, looking forward to seeing what more evolves this summer!







0 comments