For years while driving along NJ Route 72 on the way to Long Beach Island I have marvelled at the dwarf pine trees on either side of the road. They are part of the 13,000 acre unique Pigmy Pines Forest or The Plains of the Pine Barrens, described as“desolate stretches of white sand barrens … for the most part devoid of trees higher than one’s knees.”
This is certainly not a scenic wonder but it is a botanical marvel. For all those years I’ve wanted to go into the area and see what it’s like. Last Sunday a group of about 25 caravaned from the Pinelands Preservation Alliance outside of Vincentown to an area off of County 539 in the Warren Grove Recreational area. The focus of the trip was to find specimens of Coremia Conradii, more commonly Broom Crowberry, which grows more north of us and, in our area, just in this part of the Pine Barrens, and which “blooms” typically right at the Vernal Equinox. Here are beds of Broom Crowberry.
The beds looked as though they had been burned out by drought. As I said to a colleague, “I’ll not need to take a stress pill from over excitement.” But as our guide brushed his hand over the low growth clouds of pollen appeared, hoping for a female flower. When I got into the brush with a macro (closeup) lens I was amazed at the color of the male flowers.
We then moved to an area by the entrance to the bombing range (not active on Sundays, I think) where we were met by two Drexel professors (one in Herpetology, one in botany) and some of their students. They talked to us at some length about the botany and the area environmental management.
It was interesting but a little too barren and dry for me until I found some water on the way out.