Fraser Preserve

I broke from my usual Saturday gig to take a walk through the Fraser Preserve in the northern tip of the county, bordering on the river. Fraser is jointly managed by the Nature Conservancy and Calvary Baptist Church; one of its missions is making nature study available to inner city children. The walk was led by Conservancy volunteers, and a couple of staff were also on hand.

The plant life here is rather similar to what I’ve been shown on other class trips along the Potomac, at Carderock and Turkey Run, for instance.

where's my stool?Birds were mostly heard but not seen, as the canopy begins to leaf in. Some of the showiest spring bloomers are gone or nearly so (like Mertensia virginica), but we did find some Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) coming in. We had stopped to look at a patch of bluebells and I found this single Toadshade (Trillium sessile) just opening up.

Leta beware: 1Leta beware: 2I looked at this lushly growing carrotty thing, not yet in flower, and I had read the flyer for the walk that highlighted some of the property’s specialties. So I asked Ed Clark, who was co-leading, “Is this what I think it is?” and he confirmed that it was Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum). This non-native is highly toxic if ingested; it has noxious weed status in eight states. The purple spots on the stems that give it its specific epithet don’t read well in my images.

surprisingly tallBut you see that it can grow to head-height.