We call this area of the Preserve blueberry barrens because blueberries, both highbush and lowbush (Vaccinium spp.) are the dominant species of plants found here in the sandy, depauperate soil, with mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia), another member of the heath or Ericaceous family. running a close second.
The bright green groundcover in the center is a large spreading clone of lowbush blueberry.
Early spring color in the barrens
In late winter, early spring, the barrens have a neat, well maintained appearance without any effort of mine.
Lowbush blueberries carpet this section of the barrens.
Spring, and blueberries – high and low – are blooming.
The path we follow through the blueberries is probably an old deer trail worn over time. If we did not keep it open with an occasional mow, it would close in pretty quickly.
Mountain laurels are spreading throughout the blueberry barrens.
Young mountain laurels blooming.
The groundcover in the blueberry barrens is an interesting mix of mosses, clubmosses, grasses and low wildflowers.
Natural no mow – clubmosses and poverty grass
Mosses are a dominant groundcover, but patches of pussytoes, sedges and baby mountain laurel find openings.
Pussytoes are a common groundcover in the barrens, sometimes forming large patches.
Pussytoes going to seed
Can you find the tiny Spiranthes orchid?
The tiny orchid has lovely white flowers that spiral around the stem, hence the genus name – Spiranthes.
These larger Spiranthes may be butterscotch ladies tresses. They live in a different section of the barrens and bloom in September instead of July.at different times.
A colony of fragrant Pyrola rotundifolia
Pyrola rotundifolia, round-leaved pyrola
“Fairy circle” myths may be inspired by some clubmosses which spread outward to form a large patch. The oldest section in the middle dies back leaving a circular form.
Lowbush blueberries also have a tendency to grow in circular patches. That furry brown animal is a field spaniel, grazing on ripe blueberries.
Clubmosses look like miniature forests.
Close up of another of the clubmosses.
The foliage of the clubmosses is hidden by the dewberries (creeping blackberries), but their spores rising above the berries give them away.
The fall foliage of highbush blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, makes a great substitute for invasive burning bush.
By October, the leaves have fallen, but the blueberry twigs still provide a faint red glow.
The deep purple leaves on top of the moss belong to dewberry, a creeping vine that produces small but delicious blackberries.
This low evergreen Botrychium fern changes color with the seasons.
Spiranthes lacera var. lacera