[BSW] December 15, 2013 Winter Solstice Walk

Kathy Bilton kathy at fred.net
Tue Nov 12 01:30:48 GMT 2013

December 15, 2013 Annual Winter Solstice Field Trip and Hooley
at Chapman Forest, Charles County, MD 

"There are mushrooms for a brain,
owl talons, vervain, and mandrake,
and something else, unnamed,
that sets the shallow winter sap upon its face
and grants the Greenman motion
and binds him to the forest waste."

- Ari Berk, Anatomies

Sunday December 15, 2013
10:00am - 3:00pm  

Field trip co-sponsored by the Maryland Native Plant Society, Potowmack
Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, Botanical Society of
Washington, and Mattawoman Watershed Society

Leaders: Rod Simmons, Jim Long, John Burke, Alan Ford, Richard Murray,
Carole Bergmann, and Greg Zell

Celebrate the winter season at Chapman Forest (Chapman State Park) with its
spectacular scenery and remarkable diversity of native plants, wildlife, and
natural communities.  

(If you wish to have a version of this email with photos included, email 
me and I will send it to you.  kathy at fred.net )

Winter fruits of Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa var. humifusa) in
the open, sandy, coastal section of the park
below Mount Aventine.  This is probably the largest population of Prickly
Pear in the region.  Photo by R.H. Simmons.

This year, we will visit the old-age forest section from the extensive
Water-willow Shrublands along the Potomac River to the marl cliffs and
ravines near Glymont.  This section of the park is a fascinating and
regionally unique meeting ground for plants with a primary range in the
inner piedmont and mountains and those of the coastal plain.  

The region’s largest Water-willow Shrublands, with the state endangered
American Frog’s-bit (Limnobium spongia) and
other species with a primary distribution on the coastal plain, at Chapman
State Park.  Photo by R.H. Simmons.

Most of the ravines and rolling valleys throughout the forested tract
between Mount Aventine and Glymont comprise a globally-rare natural
community called Shell-Marl Ravine Forest, coined by Harvard botanist M.L.
Fernald in the 1930s after discovering similar forest communities in the
Virginia tidewater region. 

This community type occurs only on the coastal plain where river bluffs and
deep ravines over millennia have exposed underlying calcareous and
glauconitic marine sands and marl beds deposited during the Paleocene,
Eocene, and Miocene epochs when the area was a shallow sea at the western
edge of the Atlantic Ocean.  The Brightseat and Aquia Formations are the
prominent underlying strata in this section of Chapman Forest.

The combination of deep ravines, calcareous soils, and close proximity to
the Potomac River has produced a remarkable flora predominately composed of
species typical of the inner piedmont and limestone areas of the
Appalachians that are otherwise rare to absent on the coastal plain,
especially in association.

Ancient American Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), left center, overhanging
Shell-Marl Ravine Forest along the rugged shoreline of the Potomac River 
near Glymont at Chapman Forest. 
Shell-Marl Ravine Forest is perhaps best
classified as a coastal variant of Northern Coastal Plain / Piedmont Basic
Mesic Hardwood Forest: Fagus grandifolia –
Liriodendron tulipifera - Carya cordiformis / Lindera benzoin / Podophyllum
pelatatum Forest (USNVC: CEGL006055).

This ecological community type is globally rare because of its restricted
global range.  Moreover, since Fernald’s time most
sites have been heavily logged with many remaining ones severely damaged by
strong winds and invasive exotic plants.

Photo by R.H. Simmons.

During this year’s trip, we’ll see a diversity of species and natural
communities, including Maryland state champion Pagoda Oak (Quercus pagoda)
and Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii).  We’ll also see old-age Tulip
Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), White Ash (Fraxinus americana), American
Beech (Fagus grandifolia), American Basswood (Tilia americana var.
americana), Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra), Sweet Pignut Hickory (Carya
ovalis), Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua),
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and other trees such as Dwarf Hackberry
(Celtis tenuifolia), American Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), Slippery Elm
(Ulmus rubra), Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii), Paw Paw (Asimina triloba),
and others.

Dark evergreen tufts of Wavy Hairgrass (Avenella flexuosa) (=Deschampsia 
flexuosa), right, of globally-rare Coastal Plain River-Bluff Xeric Oak 
Forest: Quercus montana / Deschampsia flexuosa – Solidago bicolor Forest 
glade atop bluffs above the Potomac River at Chapman Forest.  Two 
relatively large areas of this community type occur at the park.  Photo by 
R.H. Simmons.

If there’s time, we also hope to take a moment to measure a champion-sized
Slippery Elm, White Ash, Chinquapin Oak, and Pagoda Oak at this section of
the forest.

Old Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) on steep, calcareous bluff above the Potomac
River near Glymont at Chapman Forest.

Photo by R.H. Simmons.  

Field trip is free and open to non-members.  Registration is not required.

For ARMN members, this event will apply towards advanced training hours in
botany, dendrology, forest ecology, and geology.

Bring: Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch or snacks and water.  Most of the
walk traverses rolling, fairly open forest along trails, though some steep
grades will occasionally be encountered.

Directions: Take Indian Head Highway (Rt. 210) south from Capital Beltway
(495).  Proceed south on Rt. 210 for app. 15 miles.  Continue on Rt. 210
past the Rt. 227 intersection at Bryans Road (McDonald's, Burger King, and
shopping center on right and a builders supply will be on left) and start
looking for Chapman Landing Road on right.  Take half right on Chapman
Landing Road and proceed a couple of miles to entrance to Mount Aventine
(Chapman State Park) on right.  Park and meet in parking lot at entrance
gate (additional parking is available along the shoulder of Chapman Landing
Road, though please be mindful of the neighboring residents and careful not
to damage the road edges when parking).

*Field trip cancelled for heavy-steady snow, sleet, or pouring rain, but not
for snow flurries or drizzling rain. 

Contact: http://mdflora.org/events.html


In the last light of the shortest day of the year, 2011 Winter Solstice 
Field Trip participants walk past an ancient Tulip Tree (Liriodendron 
tulipifera) in an old-age section of Mid-Atlantic Mesic Mixed Hardwood 
Forest: Fagus grandifolia – Quercus (alba, rubra) - Liriodendron 
tulipifera / Ilex opaca / Polystichum acrostichoides Forest at Chapman 
Forest.  This forest type occupies mesic to sub-mesic, relatively 
infertile, acidic sandy loams of rolling uplands, slopes, and ravines and 
is the dominant vegetation type throughout Chapman State Park and Chapman 
Forest South.

Photo by R.H. Simmons.



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