Exploring the Red Road

If yesterday’s pic wasn’t a clue… I went on a pretty intense botany trip to the Pine Barrens on Sunday. MevetS was nice enough to invite me along, but probably didn’t properly prepare me. Sure, he said to bring lunch and bug spray and the directions led me to an unmarked sugar-sand road in the middle of the Pine Barrens, but…

Seeing this really scared me. Adding to the fashion faux-pas of tucking their pants into their socks, these folks were using packing tape around their ankles to further geek themselves out/protect against chiggers.

Chiggers? Huh?

Yesterday was brutally hot and the pines in the pygmy forest did little to provide any shade from the sun, but we wandered and wandered, with the promise of a ‘wetland’ somewhere along the way.

After a couple hours walking in the blazing sun, I was fantasizing about a cool blue pool of water and cabana boys, but…

These people were all about plants… and most of them weren’t even flowering plants!


I’ve learned that plant people, as they progress and learn more, get really into sedges and rushes and grasses. This is kind of too much for me just now, kind of like shorebirds and gulls are too much for me as a birder.

I need colors and blooms and flashy stuff that catches my eye!

Digging up a sedge to be able to identify it based of the shape and fibrous nature of its roots?

Feels too much like aging gulls based on primary molt or whatever.


TMI, especially when it’s 95 degrees and you’ve been walking for hours looking for the pool – which turned out to be nothing more than a mucky stream we had to bushwack our way through.

I’ll share a couple pics tomorrow of the few flowers we did manage to stumble across. I sound like I’m making fun, but mostly I’m almost awed by the knowledge and enthusiasm I witnessed with this group and wonder how long it’ll take me to be ready to tackle (and get excited about!) sedges (or gulls).


12 thoughts on “Exploring the Red Road”

  1. Isn’t it amazing what some groups will get excited about. Well, you’ve got the stuff for many good stories out of that trip!

    Native Plant societies are quite active here … especially trying to encourage more landscaping with native plants in order to minimize watering and runoff.

  2. Laura, you totally crack me up! You sound just like I’d feel in that environment. Huh? Roots? You’re looking at ROOTS to ID something???
    BTW, I always thought you WERE the shore bird queen!!

  3. @ Patrick: The field trip is part of a field botany class presented by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. There is very little digging up of plants and only of common species. And the instructor has permission to collect plants in the Pinelands (one of his long term projects is a botanical inventory of the Pine Barrens).

  4. Duct tape works well too. And is available in different colors for the fashion conscious botany geek (although as the photos show, “fashion conscious geek” is something of an oxymoron, at least for our group).

    And methinks Laura could benefit from a botany class. ” … and most of them weren’t even flowering plants!” Hello! Except for a few mosses and the pines they were all flowering plants, albeit not all in flower. 🙂

    And I thought you liked this stuff!

    “A genuine tallgrass prairie, the Chiwaukee offers a delightful mix of native grasses, uncommon sedges …”

    “It’s an excellent place to test your plant identification skills. … Kinda Pavlovian and fun.”

    (See the post http://somewhereinnj.blogspot.com/2009/07/under-prairie-sky.html for more.)

    Although I must apologize to Laura, both for not preparing her for the rigors of the trip and leading her to believe that there would be flowers. But in my defense this was the first trip that we didn’t see plenty of flowers. And the first one we did any significant bush whacking.

    And truth be told, I don’t get all that excited about sedges either.

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