Nayfield Preserve is located on Lambertville Hopewell Rd in Hopewell.
Link to trail map.I was recently contacted by a researcher interested in studying Viburnum species and their pollinators and I jumped at the chance to show him around Nayfield. This preserve can be tricky to find, but once you arrive, it is such a wonderful place to walk. The big open field, the drier upland area, the wet lowland area, vernal pools and evergreen forest…I mean, what is there not to love? When I hike with others, I always learn something new. Today was no exception!
For a while now, I have puzzled over a certain shrub which, in some ways, resembles a Cherry tree (Prunus). Cherry trees have alternate branching patterns but this shrub had branches that were opposite each other. Although I know that there are only a handful of trees which have branches directly opposite each other, nothing in my mental plant catalog could help me identify what I was seeing.
Today, I learned that what I was seeing was none other than a very large Blackhaw Viburnums (Viburnum prunifolium )! I know this shrub well, but I mistakenly thought they didn’t grow larger than 10 feet tall. Today, I learned that Blackhaw can grow to almost 40 feet tall! How boring would life be if we already knew it all?Multiflora Rose, Rosa multiflora, leafing out. This invasive bramble is the first woody plant that I have seen with leaves this year.Blackhaw Viburnum flower buds about to open! Doesn’t it look like a little broccoli head hiding within the bud scales? Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, another invasive plant which always seems to be springing ahead of the pack! Garlic mustard is considered an edible. I have heard that people sometimes use it as a substitute for garlic when making pesto. I have a bunch of it in my yard, so I think I might need to try this recipe later this spring!Fox scat with what looks like a little femur, tibia and fibula in it. Perhaps remnants of rodent dinner.This tree caught my eye as I entered the field. The silvery buds were glowing in the morning sun! My guess is that it is some sort of Pussy Willow, Salix spp.The buds were so soft under my fingers that it felt as if I was petting a rabbit! If anyone has a guess as to what species this is, please let me know!Another “New-To-Me” species! This is called Seedbox, Ludwigia alternifolia! How fabulous are these seed capsules? When Seedbox is in bloom it has beautiful yellow flowers and that would be a gorgeous native plant to add to any garden!I think everyone needs another view of these seed capsules! I can’t help but smile when I see them 🙂