On September 26th ten members of the Sarracenia Chapter enjoyed a two hour hike through recently burned sandhill habitat. The site, near Medart, Wakulla County, is part of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Advance planning allowed for appropriate physical distancing. When species of note were encountered, they were marked with colored flags so participants could get a close-up look with plenty of free elbow room.
Hikers included newly retired folks making their first visit to this habitat type, long-time chapter members, and owners of sandhills of their own, familiar with the flora and maintenance of this habitat. The pace was a comfortable stroll on a beautiful, dry, not-too-hot morning. In addition to the characteristic scattered pines and oaks, we saw well over three dozen wildflower species, all in flower or fruit. Stands of blooming blazing-star were most impressive, including the endemic and endangered Godfrey’s blazing-star (Liatris provincialis) in patches like one shown below. We learned about wiregrass, seedling long-leaf pine, and the importance of frequent fire in sandhills. Retired university mycologist Tom Dolan contributed mushroom identification and ecology tips.
Rebecca Dolan and David Roddenberry
Photos: Godfrey's blazing star, David Roddenberry; American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and lanceleaf blanketflower (Gaillardia aestivalis), Rebecca Dolan