A little background on BotSoc field trips: Volunteers put together a field trip calendar each year; it is an enticing schedule of over 40 trips from January to November in locations throughout the state. Field trips are open to members and the public, although occasionally the number of participants is limited. This trip to ‘Dixie Bog’ (in Dixie, GA) was limited to 15 people. Participants were a mixture of experienced botanists, conservation professionals, and amateur enthusiasts.
The drive south was long but an interesting travel through some of Georgia’s agricultural areas. We saw pecan orchards and big fields of cotton – some cotton plants were still blooming, others ripening, and some of them were already harvested into great rectangles of baled cotton. We also saw miles of morning glories – it was the perfect time of the morning to see them.
Once we arrived at the site, we loaded up with bug spray and piled into the vehicles that would transport us around to the places of interest on this large tract. On our way to the first stop, we passed through wooded areas, some dripping with Spanish moss, and open fields. This area is managed for quail hunting (we flushed just one as we drove past where it was resting). The open areas are maintained with occasional use of fire, a practice that has benefited the herbaceous plants as well.
We walked in to an area with pitcher plants, yellow (Sarracenia flava) and hooded (Sarracenia minor), as well as an amazing array of other plants. Florida sunflower (Helianthus floridanus) and savanna eryngo (Eryngium integrifolium) caught my eye first because they were so prevalent. As we looked closer, we found pineland rayless goldenrod (Bigelowia nudata), several species of blazing stars (Liatris spicata was one), and the curvaceous stems of toothache grass (Ctenium aromaticum).
As the group spread out to explore, cries of excitement rang out with each new treasure discovered. A fruiting fevertree (Pinckneya bracteata) was identified. The first of many green lynx spiders was found, and Coastal Plain tickseed (Coreopsis gladiata) and Nuttall’s thistle (Cirsium nuttallii) were examined closely. Thick stands of Indian plantain (Arnoglossum ovatum) were breathtaking to see so much of it.
We got back into our vehicles for the next stop where there were not only more pitcher plants but also dewthreads (Drosera tracyi), a member of the carnivorous sundew family. Another new (to me) plant in this area was blacksenna (Seymeria pectinata), a prolific annual plant whose flowers were very popular with bees.
Again the group spread out, different groups examining and discussing plants in more detail.
The hooded pitcher plants (S. minor) were very nice in this location, and we found one of the last flowering Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia graminifolia) as well as a few meadow-beauties (Rhexia) with their urn-shaped seedpods.
As we headed back for lunch, we saw great stands of purple false foxglove (Agalinis fasciculata) with buckeye butterfly caterpillars on them. We had also seen several adult buckeyes flying around, visiting Eupatorium, bluemistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) and other flowers. Seeing insects in their natural relationships is one of my favorite sights and these caterpillars were a highlight for me.
|Caterpillar of buckeye butterfly|
We relaxed with our brown bag lunches at the owner’s house while a quick rain shower blew through. There were several more hours of exploring ahead of us in new locations, but I’ll have to do a part two for those adventures.