Battle Creek Cypress Swamp

We took a look at a freshwater swamp for our next wetlands field trip, co-led by Charles County staffer Katie Bradley. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp is known around the area as being one of the northernmost places where Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) can be found in large numbers. It’s suspected that the cypresses did well in this spot, rather than getting crowded out by shade-tolerant understory species, because farmers once grazed cattle here.

creeque alleyMuch of the soggy spots were just that, with no standing or running water, but Battle Creek itself still showed some flow, as it made its way south to the Patuxent.

Katie also took us upland into a nice managed meadow along the access road (Grays Road) that I hadn’t seen on my previous visit.

nettedDown in the bottomlands, we found Netted Chain Fern (Woodwardia areolata). I’m starting to get a handle on this one, and how it differs from Sensitive Fern. Both are lovers of boggy spots, and both have the non-fernlike wings along the rachis. This note from Flora of Virginia helps a lot:

When fruiting structures are not present, Woodwardia areolata is sometimes confused with Onocolea, but in W. areolata, the pinnae tend to be alternate (tending to be opposite in Onocolea) and acute or acuminate (vs. obtuse), with finely serrulate margins (vs. entire) (p. 156)

The fine serrations and the alternate pinnae are fairly clear in the above image. But I still need to be patient and spend more time looking for sori.