Saturday, May 8, 2010

Unique Ecosystem: Soldiers Delight

Bird at Soldiers Delight - from 2 Green Acres
Last weekend, we went for a hike at Soldiers Delight, a serpentine barren in Maryland. What is a serpentine barren? I'll let the folks from the Maryland Geological Survey explain it:

The barrens are underlain by serpentinite, a rock that contains very little quartz and aluminum-bearing minerals and consists mainly of serpentine. When serpentinite weathers most of the rock dissolves leaving behind a thin, sand- and clay-poor soil which is easily eroded. Therefore the land surface over serpentinites is stony, unfertile and sparsely vegetated - hence the term "serpentine barren." Typically a serpentine barren contains scrub oak and pine, cedar, grasses and some unique and rare wildflowers.

The park service is working to rid the 1900 acres of invasive species and restore the site to a natural serpentine habitat. As part of this process they are doing controlled burns to protect the native grasslands. The site contains 39 rare or endangered plant species, including the serpentine chickweed which was in bloom.

serpentine chickweed at Soldiers Delight
The park is a great place to see wildflowers in bloom including black cherry, blue-eyed grass and a number of other wildflowers that I do not know the name of. If you live in the area, you should check it out!maryland wildflower photo from 2 Green Acres

Maryland wildflower photo from 2 Green AcresMaryland wildflower photo from 2 Green Acres

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