Sourland Mountain Preserve (Hunterdon County) – An afternoon hike with my little dude

Sourland Mountain Preserve is located on Rileyville Rd in Ringoes

Link to hike map and description


I know, I know… no bouldering…  however have you ever tried to stop a three year old from climbing a large rock?!


Leaves of Three, let it be!  This, my friends is poison ivy (Toxicodendrons radicans).  3 shiny leaves, wavy/toothed margins, hairy vine.  This “sinister” plant is native and the berries are loved by many bird species.  The rash that most people get when they touch poison ivy is an allergic reaction to the oils produced by the plant.  These oils are persistent and once they are on your clothes they can be very difficult if not almost impossible to remove!  The oils are also retained on plant tissues for many years, so if you want to remove poison ivy from your property, you cannot just spray it with herbicide, you must remove the whole plant (roots included).  Poison ivy is in the cashew family and is also related to mangoes.  Some people that are highly allergic to poison ivy will also react to the skin of mangoes!


Wild Geranium, Geranium maculatum, is a native spring flower.  One of the common names of this plant is Crane’s bill, because the seed pods look like the head and bill of a crane.


Solomon Seal, Polygonatum pubescens, for sure this time!


Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida.  Flowering dogwood is the “Official Memorial Tree of New Jersey”!  Many people confuse the bracts on flowering dogwood for flower petals.  The big white or pink “petals” on flowering dogwoods are actually bracts, which are modified leaves.  The actual flower petals are very small and inconspicuous.  Here is a link that visually shows what I am talking about.



Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana.  While it may be common knowledge that Witch hazel astringent is made from this plant, there is also a folklore that a forked branch from Witch Hazel can be used as a dowsing rod to find ground water.  I have heard many tales of this, but personally have never tried it.  I wonder if any person can perform this task or do they have to be specially trained to find water?


A beautiful trail on a beautiful day!



May Apple, Podophyllum peltatum, in flower.  May apples have a two-year life cycle.  The first year they put up only one leaf, as seen in the background of this photo.  In their second year they send up a set of leaves and the flower arises from the axil between the two leaf stems.


Rue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides, I just love how thin the leaf stems are that it makes it look like the leaves are just floating in the air!


My dude has been loving this hike.  Running up and down the path, doing 2-3 times the distance I have because I keep stopping to take pictures.  He runs ahead, realizes I am not with him, turns around and runs back to me, then runs ahead again, all the while shouting “Mom!  Take a picture of this plant! Take a picture of this rock! Take a picture of me, CHEESE!!!!!”



Japanese Stiltgrass, Microstegium vimineum, coming up through the leaf litter.   This is a highly invasive species, that can live in both shaded and non-shaded environments.  I have seen large, tall stands (taller than me!) of this in the woods as well as having this species try to take over our lawn.  If you see it, rip it out!

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, a native and carnivorous plant.  There are a couple different types of carnivorous plants.  There are some that are snap-traps, like Venus fly traps, Dionaea spp.  There are others that are sticky traps, like Sundews, Drosera spp.  Jack-in-the-pulpits are pitcher plants, that attract their prey and once the prey enters the pitcher, they are not able to crawl out.  However, the way this plant pollinates is absolutely fascinating!  I can’t describe it better than the New York Botanical Garden, so before you shut your computer for the evening, read this article.  I promise you, it will be good dinner conversation!



2 thoughts on “Sourland Mountain Preserve (Hunterdon County) – An afternoon hike with my little dude

  1. Natalie

    Great pics, and great botany stories! Especially the dousing rod story… I wonder if there’s anyone who still knows how to make those work!

    Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s