A common native orchid found in eastern united states and Canada, the Showy Orchid, also known as showy orchis, purple-hooded orchid, or gay orchid, lives up to its name, albeit tinily. They bloom from April to June before the forest canopy is fully leafed out. The orchid thrives in humus-rich deciduous woodlands with a slightly acidic ph. As with almost all orchids, they depend on fungi for their seed germination.
These flowers were all over the reserve and indicated a stable population. There were many new orchids with a single leaf out. Most orchids had one or two blooms on them, but a few managed three!
This common long lived perennial grows in the eastern half of the United States. Its flowers are varied in color but are hard to miss. Its three petal leaves means it can be confused with a young poison ivy. The plant itself contains Oxalic acid and oxalate crystals that can burn if ingested.
The flowers emerge after the leaves in late spring to early summer. The striped spathe surrounds a fleshy spadix that bears tiny flowers pollinated by small flies. In late summer the plant produces red berries. Its attractive flowers and large trifoliate leaves should make this an excellent addition to anybody shady garden. The plant is easy to grow in shade in the state of New Jersey.
Starflower is a small ground covering herb across the forests of eastern North America. It is from the primrose family, the name of the genus Trientalis, meaning one-third of a foot in Latin, refers to the average height of the plant.
The plant grows as a creeping rhizome and blooms early in the summer. The leaves grow out of a single stalk in a whorled fashion, with a flower spike emerging from the center. To the right, a colony of starflower is seen growing alongside a blooming Canadian mayflower.
On our kayaking trip recently through the pinelands, my wife and I were fortunate enough to spot not one but three Spotted turtles! I could only photograph the two instances, but we were lucky to have spotted them multiple times. These turtles are now classified as endangered and listed as Species of Special Concern by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program.
Habitat fragmentation and destruction are important factors that have lead to the decline of this small turtle species, its appeal among the pet trade has worsened the ground reality. The turtle has a range from Maine in the north, to Florida in the south. Disjunct populations exist in Canada and Illinois.
Like the common violet, the lance-leaved violet blooms early to mid spring. It is among the very few white stemless violets growing on man disturbed habitats, marshes, sandy shores and wetland margins. I observed them growing in high numbers along the river system in New Jersey pinelands.
These plants can be found growing anywhere along the river shore, on the left we see a violet growing on an eroded bank out of an exposed rhizome. The stemless violets are not truly without stem, but instead grow from a modified stem buried underground, a Rhizome.
The flowers are small as seen by the lichens growing next to it. I was able to take these photographs thanks to the awesome birthday gift my wife got me. A day kayaking through the pinelands! We used pineland adventures, they are awesome and will highly recommend them!
If you look closely at this sedge mound (possibly a tussock sedge) you can see a small bog violet growing out of it. This demonstrates clearly the need for ecosystem preservation. The sand next to the sedge roots has been eroded out by the rivers flow, but the roots of the plant are holding on to enough soil to allow other species of plants and animals to survive. Native grasses and sedges have deep roots and help vulnerable habitats. The aquifer under New Jersey depends on these ecosystems to replenish itself with clean water.
The common violet (Viola Sororia) is a common herbaceous plant found in eastern North America. The plant comes in many varieties of flowers and many more cultivars and hybrids. The plant is self seeding and spreads across a lawn with ease.
It spreads with ease and is a great addition to any lawn. A native, it provides important food for pollinators in early spring.
The common violet also happens to be the state flower of New Jersey! Pictured below are some of the variants of the common violet.