Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bell Forest Field Trip

Acadian Forest Rich in Rare Plants

Purple Trillium Trillium erectum
Bell Forest Preserve is a 50-hectare conservation site owned by the Meduxnekeag River Authority.  It was purchased through public and private funding and preserves our best known surviving example of Acadian Forest habitat.  It contains many rare plants, some not found anywhere else in the province and some found nowhere else east of Quebec, including Maine.  It was my privilege to visit this site recently.  This posting showcases some of the plants we found.

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis

Dutchman's-breeches Dicentra cucullaria
Bloodroot and Dutchman's-breeches are common in rich soils under hardwoods.  There were also many violets.  Pictured below is the Yellow Violet.  Its leaves and flowers grow from the same stem.

Smooth Yellow Violet Viola pubescens

American Dog Violet Viola conspera

Marsh Blue Violet Viola cucullata
The Marsh Blue Violet is our provincial flower and is also called the Purple Violet.  In the photo above it is spotted with water droplets. 

Wild Ginger Asarum canadense

Wild Ginger Asarum canadense
Wild Ginger is also found in Bell Forest, though only sparsely.  It has a heart-shaped leaf and its brownish-purple flower is on the ground.  It is pollenated by ants.  The root of this plant smells and tastes like ginger.  

Kidney-leaf Buttercup Ranunculus abortivus

Kidney-leaf Buttercup Ranunculus abortivus
This buttercup is fairly common in rich hardwoods where it prefers to grow under hardwood trees.  Its flower is inconspicuous.

There are many uncommon species of ferns growing in Bell Forest.  Christmas Fern is not rare but one of our interesting evergreen ferns.  In the photo below you can see the over-wintered fronds with new growth 'fiddleheads'.
Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides
 Silvery Glade Fern is listed as 'locally common' in some rich sites.  However, it is not a fern we see very often.  It is just newly growing in the photo below.  In the adult plant the sori (fruiting bodies) are silver coloured and herringbone shaped.  They give the plant its silvery colour.

Silvery Glade Fern Deparia acrostichoides
Rich hardwood sites are a wonderful, diverse study area.  Their rich limestone soils provide nutrients for unique flora.  They are special sites which need to be treasured and preserved.

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