An FODM Ecology Walk

On June 25, 2022, ecologist Charles Smith led a walk for 20 members of the Friends of Dyke Marsh along the Dyke Marsh Haul Road trail. He explained that Dyke Marsh is in the coastal plain, a geologic region with gravel deposits, unlike the Piedmont which has many rock formations. Dyke Marsh, a freshwater tidal wetland, has two three-foot tides a day, on average.

Red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were calling, ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) were soaring and several dragonfly species were flitting about.

Here are a few highlights:

Charles explained how invasive plants typically outcompete native plants and provide little wildlife value. All photos by Glenda Booth

2022 ecol walk invasives

The group studied the fruits of a walnut tree (genus Juglans) and sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua).

2022 ecol walk walnut sweetgum fruits

The smooth sumacs (Rhus glabra) were sporting greenish-white flowers will turn bright red later in the year.  Virginia has three native sumac species.

2022 ecol walk smooth sumac 1


2022 ecol walk smooth sumac 2

Sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) have scaly bark, Charles pointed out.

2022 ecol walk sycamore

Two trees along the trail have heart-shaped leaves, the eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) and the cottonwood (Populus deltoids). This redbud has seedpods.

2022 ecol walk redbud

Dragonflies were zooming around, like this common whitetail (Plathemis Lydia).

2022 ecol walk common whitetail dragonfly

The buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) was blooming.

2022 ecol walk buttonbush

Eastern gamma grass (Tripsacum dactyloides), a wind-pollinated plant, was in full bloom. This is the male.

2022 ecol walk eastern gammma grass

These are the white shells of Asiatic clams. Clam shells are symmetrical, Charles said. Mussel shells are asymmetrical.

2022 ecol walk asiatic clams

Water willow plants (Justicia americana) around two feet tall were growing near the water. Their roots form mats.

2022 ecol walk water willow

Arrow arum or duck potato (Peltandra virginica) is a common wetland plant with arrow-shaped leaves.  Ducks love the fruit which the plant drops into the water.

2022 ecol walk arrow arum duck potato

Sensitive ferns (Onoclea sensibilis) are thriving near the boardwalk.

2022 ecol walk sensitive ferns

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