Ana səhifə

Little Ocmulgee State Park Bay Boardwalk

Yüklə 355.5 Kb.
ölçüsü355.5 Kb.

Little Ocmulgee State Park

Bay Boardwalk

 This trail has WHITE markers.


The boardwalk takes you into an uncommon bay forest ecosystem. This hardwood wetland is dominated by three species of broad-leaved evergreen trees: loblolly bay, swamp bay and sweetbay magnolia. It grows on acid, peaty soils on the southeastern coastal plain. Typically, swamps in south Georgia contain cypress or gum trees. Even during the winter, the bay forest appears as a wall of dark green foliage. During the summer the deep shade feels cooler than the surrounding pine forest. The dense vegetation traps moisture, so the air is more humid and the ground stays moist.

Common Birds

Woodpeckers: Red-bellied, Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Pileated, Northern flicker

Warblers: Common Yellow, Pine, Northern parula, Yellow-rumped

Perching birds: White-breasted nuthatch, Great crested flycatcher, Acadian flycatcher, Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee, Eastern phoebe

[1] Loblolly Bay

The loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) is the most common bay in the swamp. A small tree is growing to the left of the marker. The elliptic, dark green, leathery leaves are about 6 inches long and have wavy margins. In the late spring there are beautiful 5-petaled white flowers with silky yellow stamens in the center. There is a mature tree behind the marker with deeply furrowed, cinnamon-brown bark.

[2] Netted Chain Fern

Netted chain fern (Woodwardia aerolata) has small light green, coarsely-cut leaves that are widest toward the base. The fertile (spore-bearing) fronds curl inward, turning a rich, shiny brown, and growing taller than the sterile fronds. This is a common fern growing in wet acidic soils found in swampy woods, pinelands, bogs and roadside ditches.

[3] Sphagnum Moss

The light green mat is sphagnum moss. It holds extensive amounts of water plus it makes water more acidic. It decays into peat. The soil in the bay forest is strongly acidic, somewhat sandy, and high in organic matter. It holds water like a sponge, so many wetland plants appear here that are not found on the drier pinewoods surrounding the bay forest. The peat soil will not burn as long as it remains saturated.

[4] Two More Bays

Behind the marker is a swamp bay (Persea palustris) with gray-brown bark. Its elliptical evergreen leaves are 3 to 7 inches long, dark green above and pale below, with rusty hairs along the midrib. They give off a spicy odor when crushed. The small tree to the left of the marker is yet another bay, sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana). It also has elliptical leaves, dark green and shiny above, and silvery-green beneath. The leaves of all three types of bays are similar and confusing. The loblolly bay has wavy margins, the swamp bay has rusty hairs along the lower leaf midribs, and the sweetbay has narrower leaves with light undersides. Though they are all called “bay”, the three trees are not related. The loblolly bay is in the tea family (related to a shrub whose leaves are steeped into a beverage). The swamp bay is in the laurel family (related to a shrub whose bay leaves are used for seasoning). The sweetbay is in the magnolia family (noted for trees with showy blooms).

[5] Pinckneya

An unusual shrub is pinckneya (Pinckneya bracteata), also known as fever tree. Its opposite elliptical leaves are 3 to 7 inches long. In the late spring it has trumpet-shaped flowers framed by showy, pink sepals clustered at the branch ends. The bitter bark was formerly used as a home remedy for reducing fever. It is related to the quinine tree, a tropical plant used to treat malaria.

[6] Two Vines

Vines save energy by using a host tree for support to reach sunlight in the canopy. Laurel greenbriar (Smilax laurifolia) is scrambling up the tree to the left of this marker. It has stout stems, twining tendrils and oval evergreen leaves. Its sharp thorns have earned it the nickname “green barbed wire”. Clusters of small yellowish-green flowers ripen into bluish-black berries in the late summer. The branches and leaves seeming to grow from the lower trunk of the tree actually belong to a poison ivy vine. Many people break out in a skin rash several days after touching the plant, caused by an oil it produces. Poison ivy leaves are compound, “leaves of three, let it be!” Tiny aerial roots make the vines look hairy. In the fall, birds enjoy its clusters of white berries.

[7] Virginia Sweetspire

Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) is a common shrub growing in damp areas of the southeast. It has alternate elliptic leaves 3-4 inches long with tiny teeth. Its elongated clusters of fragrant white flowers appear in the spring and attract butterflies, looking somewhat like white bottlebrushes. They are followed by slender beaked capsules in the fall, which are eaten by birds. The dark green leaves turn crimson in the fall.

[8] Creek

Although the creek bottom is mucky, the water is surprisingly clear, even after a rain. The water comes from rainfall and seepage from the surrounding pine uplands. If you are quiet, you might hear or see some of the animals that live in the swamp. Several types of frogs, toads and salamanders live here, as well as king snakes and garter snakes. Amphibians use wet areas such as this to lay their eggs, safe from fish that live in the nearby river. Bay forests offer year-round shelter and food for birds. Perhaps you will hear a woodpecker tapping, a warbler chirping, or a Carolina wren singing.

[9] Red Maple

Look up to see a red maple (Acer rubrum), a common wetland tree. It has opposite, lobed leaves 2 to 5 inches ling, with 3 to 5 main points, and light undersides. Showy clusters of reddish flowers appear in early spring. The winged seed is called a samara, and helps the seeds scatter in the wind.

[10] Muscadine Grape

The vine with the shreddy bark climbing the maple at the left is muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia). It has round leaves with coarse teeth. Birds and mammals enjoy the large purple grapes that ripen in late summer. You can see many vines climbing into the canopy to reach the sunlight. Young vines will sometimes “hitch a ride” on small trees, growing with their host.

[11] Loblolly Pine

You are at the edge of the bay forest, looking over a more open pine woodland. There are many large loblolly pines (Pinus teada) of similar age, a sign of a major disturbance many decades past. Loblollies have three needles per bundle, and gray-brown bark broken into large plates. They quickly colonize disturbed areas. Before the park was established in the late 1930s, this area was farmed or logged. The bay forest was not disturbed. The widely spaced pines allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor. Notice the abundance of vines scrambling over the shrubs.

[12] American Beautyberry

American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a common shrub. It has light green, hairy leaves up to 8 inches long with wavy edges and long tapering tips. Pinkish flowers are followed by bright purple pea-sized fruits in the fall.

[13] Fetterbush Lyonia

Fetterbush lyonia (Lyonia lucida) is another common wetland shrub on the coastal plain. It has alternate, shiny evergreen leaves about 3 inches long. Small clusters of pink, bell-shaped flowers appear in the early spring. A member of the heath family, it does well in the acid soil and shade of the forest floor.

[14] Yellow Jessamine

Yellow jessamine (Gelsemium semper-virens) is a common vine scrambling up trees and shrubs. Its fragrant yellow blossoms are a delight in early spring. The paired evergreen leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, and pointed at the tips.

[15] Large Gallberry

A common wetland shrub is large gallberry (Ilex coriacea), a type of holly. It has alternate, leathery oval leaves that have small teeth on the edges. They are shiny dark green above, and dull lighter green beneath. Tiny white flowers appear in the spring, and a blackish berry matures in the fall.

[16] Poison Sumac

Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a small tree frequently found in swamp edges on the coastal plan. It has large alternate compound leaves, with 9-13 leaflets on a reddish stem. Like its cousin, poison ivy, its sap causes most people to develop a skin rash after they touch it. Small greenish flowers bloom in early summer and are followed by white fruits in late summer.

[17] Cinnamon Fern

There are several clumps of cinnamon ferns (Osmunda cinnamomea), a common wetland fern. Its fronds are 2-4 feet high, growing from a common base. Cinnamon-colored spores appear on a central stalk, hence its common name.

[18] Summary

While walking along the Bay Boardwalk you have encountered many plants typical of a bay forest ecosystem. Three types of bay trees dominate the evergreen canopy: loblolly bay, swamp bay and sweetbay magnolia. There is an open understory of tall shrubs and vines that are well adapted to the acid soil. Ferns and sphagnum moss sparsely cover the ground, as little light reaches the forest floor. The multiple layers of evergreen leaves keep the humidity in the bay forest higher than the surrounding pine uplands. The moist peaty soil supports many wetland species, and discourages fires. A small stream receives seepage water from the surrounding pine uplands. It provides a year-round water supply for animals, and a place for amphibians such as frogs and salamanders to reproduce. Birds find abundant berries, roosting and nesting places in the multi-layered forest. Warblers hunt for insects in the dense vegetation, and woodpeckers tap holes in trees.
Please recycle this leaflet in the white box at the end of the boardwalk.
Developed by volunteer naturalist Carol Schneier 12/07

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət