Fort Totten

keep your powder dryMy first of two walks under the auspices of WalkingTown DC was a quick spin through Fort Totten led by Mary Pat Rowan, with an emphasis on the woody plants of this semi-preserved area. The geology of this high point in the landscape is somewhat unusual: it’s a gravel terrace perched on impermeable clay. You can get a bit of the feel for the geology in the image, where the clay and gravel are exposed by excavations that provided a powder magazine for this Civil War earthworks in defense of the capital. Unusual geology means unusual flora, with some dry conditions specialists in evidence, among them Amelanchier species (one of these days I will learn to recognize Serviceberry) and Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica). Chestnut Oak (Q. montana), that upper-elevation specialist, is also thriving. Mary Pat also noted that Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) can be found in the park, but we didn’t have time to take a look.

Barreling off trail and kicking up occasional human-dropped litter, Mary Pat led us through a patch of heath community plants, including high and lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium sp.), huckleberries (Gaylussacia sp.), and Pink Azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides).