First of the Season

Hello CLM bloggers and scientists; happy spring!

I’ve gotten a hearty welcome here in Maryland at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, and have a feeling I’m going to learn quite a few plants here.

I’ve also learned (in the barely-one-week-and-a-half I’ve been here) a bit about snakehead fish finding their way into the canal, about the collaboration necessary to re-route a trail then add a sturdier bridge, about aqueducts and mule-towed boats.

Back in the canal’s heyday, mules walked along the towpath tugging a cargo boat up the canal (which would be opposite the river, to the left of the towpath, and out of photo). Here’s a photo of the towpath and the Potomac River.

I had the opportunity to head into the park and check out some sites where construction would impact the land by driving heavy machinery, dumping soil, or clearing trees. We didn’t find any rare plants, so business continues.

What about some botany? What am I doing? Rare plant surveys! Identifying and keying  to be sure what I’ve found is rare. Counting and keeping data. Looking for any effects invasive species and land use might have on historically documented vegetation communities.

The neat thing about the Chesapeake and Ohio canal National Historical Park is the diversity of the flora. Because it spans communities from bustling metropolis to historic farm villages with a few people per mile, there is a chance for many types of habitats to foster introduced and native species, as well as those not found in many other places. I get to look for those not often found elsewhere.
Challenge accepted!

Gosh the anticipation of getting out into the field is killing me, mostly because the more time I spend leafing through the Flora of Virginia, the less competent I feel. I know that’s just winter. I’m not saying the snow isn’t beautiful, especially with at least a half foot of it lining the Potomac right now, but I miss being engulfed in the green seasons.  I thought Maryland doesn’t usually get much snow…

Anyway, here is a photo of a native plant I captured a few days ago, Mertensia virginica, or Virginia bluebells. It’s not flowering yet, but we’ll get there!

Here’s to a great season!

 

Rachael

 

By the way, anything I post in this blog is my opinion, and not necessarily that of NPS or CBG.

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