St. Michaels Farm Preserve – What is blooming now?

St. Michaels Farm Preserve is located in Hopewell township, with entrances on Rt. 569 and Aunt Molly Road.

Link to NJ trail map and description

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Fridays…  Well Fridays are usually the most relaxing work day for me, but sometimes I have to bring the Wild Boys with me.  This is usually fine because I just run into the office real quick and then I’m off into the woods, but not today!  I had a bunch of work to do in the office as well as run errands and these wild boys were having none of this “Sit quietly and color while Mommy works” business.  So, I grabbed the stroller and took them over to St. Michael’s Farm Preserve to burn off some energy (and to save the office from looking like a tornado hit it).  The last time I came here, I had traveled off on little side trails, but I was delighted to find a wide crushed gravel path perfect for walking with a stroller (or having a toddler ride along on his bike!).  I had to enlist the help of some of the Sourland Stewards for the identification of some of these flowers.  I have never been great with forbs, especially ones that grow in meadows.

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Northern Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa, is a native tree species probably most notable for its long bean like fruits.  When I took dendrology in college, I often would forget what families a particular plant was in, but Catalpa belonged to the Bignoniaceae family which was very easy to remember because the leaves of this tree are very large.  Embarrassingly enough, I had never noticed the flowers before, but seeing them today I can’t believe I never took notice! When I did see those flowers I immediately wondered if Catalpa was a nitrogen fixer, even though it is not in the family (Fabaceae) that is typically associated with nitrogen fixers.  Well, apparently Catalpa IS a nitrogen fixer, a low fixer, but a fixer none the less!

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Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, an invasive with lovely smelling flowers and yummy nectar.  As a child I always loved bitting of the base of the flower and sucking the sweet nectar from the flower.  As an adult I have stopped such pleasurable habit, that I think I am going to take up again.  I mean, after all, if I remove the flowers then no fruit can form!

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Yellow Trefoil, Medicago lupulina, a dainty little invasive flower.  I love these flower heads!

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Chicory, Cichorium intybus,  highly invasive and yet so lovely.  I am always so bummed when I learn that plants I adore are non-native.  Chicory root is sometimes used as an additive or even as an alternative to coffee.

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Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, a native most famously known because it is the host plant for the wondrous Monarch Butterfly.  Another interesting fact about Milkweed is that it contains cardiac glycosides, which is harmless to Monarch caterpillars but it renders the caterpillars toxic to birds and other predators.

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White Campion, Silene latifolia, an invasive native to Europe.

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My big dude got tired of me constantly stopping to investigate plants and take photos, so he decided that he and littlest would keep walking.

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Oriental Bittersweet, Celatrus orbiculatus, in fruit.

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Birdsfoot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, is considered to be a high quality forage for cows and horses!

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I had originally thought this was Morning Glory, Ipomoea spp., but was later informed that this is Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis.  Morning Glory and Field Bindweed are in the same family, Convolvulaceae.  However, both are invasive in the United States.  I am constantly battling Morning Glory in my vegetable garden.  The prior owner of our home had a flower garden that we mostly converted into a vegetable garden, but some of her plants try to sneak by and re-establish themselves.

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Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is a native flower that has a two year life cycle.  In the first year there is just a rosette of leaves and the second year Yarrow will flower.

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European Privet, Ligustrum vulgare, in flower.

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Red Clover, Trifolium pratense, contain isoflavones which have been used to treat menopausal symptoms in women as well have been associated with a decrease in bone loss in women that are otherwise healthy.

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White Clover, Trifolium repens, are great forage foods for animals.  Many moth caterpillars also enjoy to munch on clovers.

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Black raspberry, Rubus occidentalis, fruits!  I learned today that black raspberries are not true berries!  Read more about it here!     Black raspberries are classified as drupletes that create an aggregate fruit.

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The canes (or stems) of Black raspberry have a “glaucous bloom” on them.  This is just a fancy term for a white/grey/blue-ish waxy coating that can be rubbed off.  As the canes mature, they turn brown and lose this characteristic.

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Comparing the top-side and underside of black raspberry leaves.  The leaves of black raspberry are a compound with three leaflets per leaf.  The top-side of the leaves are dark green while the undersides are whitish/silver.

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A post-walk lunch at the Train Station.  This is probably my 3-year old’s favorite part of coming to work with me.

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