Botany 2003 Field Trip Descriptions 


FT 1 Pitcher-plant Bogs, Coastal Karst Ponds/Sinkholes, and Longleaf Pine Ecological Interactions in Conecuh National Forest Pitcher-plant bogs, cypress sloughs, and coastal karst ponds are just a sample of hydrologically-driven habitats to be featured on this trip through the Dougherty Plains section of the Conecuh National Forest.  Through a series of stops and short hikes, participants will learn first hand how fire & water have played important roles in shaping and in maintaining the ecological health of the longleaf pine ecosystem that epitomizes much of the national forest and the American Southeast.  In light of ongoing restoration and ecosystem management, the Conecuh National Forest functions as a biological refugia for some of the nation’s rarest and most treasured flora, including such plants as  Macranthera flammea, six species of Sarracenia, and a diversity of carnivorous plants.  Be prepared for hot muggy weather (temperatures in the mid to upper 90s and humidity ranging from 80-100%); wear suitable clothing for the conditions, including long pants, hats and sun protection.  Drinking water will be provided.  Since some areas will be muddy, waterproof boots are recommended.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)

FT 2 A Pteridological Excursion to the Conecuh National Forest (Alabama) and Black Water River State Forest (Florida).
The longleaf pine savannas of the Conecuh National Forest and Black Water River State Forest, have many distinct habitats such as Pitcher plant bogs, cypress sloughs, and sandy bottom black water rivers.  We hope to see a variety of fern ally species including Lycopodium (sensu latu), Selaginella, Equisetum, and Isoetes.   Woodwardia virginica, W. areolata, Osmunda cinnamomea, Osmunda regalis, and and Thelypteris species are quite common in this region.    Please be prepared for hot muggy weather and it is highly recommended that you wear long pants and boots that you don’t mind getting wet.  You will also need sun and insect protection and plenty of water.  Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 3 Botanical Tour of Eglin Air Force Base  Eglin Air Force Base is located in northwest Florida covering ca. 463,448 acres within Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties. A high diversity of both natural communities and rare plants occur on Eglin. The natural communities and the plants and animals that inhabit them not only receive protection by being within this federal military reservation, but are thriving there due to Eglin’s active Ecosystem Management practices. Our itinerary for the day will cover many miles, but due to time limitations, we will primarily look at the northwest portion of the base. The trip will begin with a visit to Weaver Creek where we will see a large population of Lilium iridollae in flower.  Within this seepage stream, other rarities can be observed such as Drosera intermedia and Nuphar lutea ssp. ulvacea. Our next stop will be at Boiling Creek where we will take a quick look at floating mats of white-top floating pitcher plants (Sarracenia leucophylla). Next, we will head to Whitmier Island, a large and frequently fire-maintained wet prairie, where numerous forbs and graminoids will be in flower. A visit will then be made to one of Eglin’s most distinctive topographic features – a steephead. The headwaters of Weaver Creek form within this steephead. Distinguished by having steep slopes which are dominated by hardwoods such as Magnolia ashei and the base of the slope having considerably cooler temperatures with distinct plants such as Illicium floridanum. After lunch, we will visit the East Bay flatwoods. Excellent examples of fire-maintained mesic flatwoods will be observed here and we will see Calamovilfa curtissii among numerous other plants of interest. Next, we will  proceed to the Patterson Natural Area, an area of high quality sandhill with old growth longleaf pine (Pinus palustris). Potential rare plants to encounter within the sandhills are Tephrosia mohrii and Baptisia calycosa var. villosa.  A stop at Live Oak Creek will allow us to get another peep at the white top pitcher plants. If there is enough time left when we get to this point, we will head south to the Gulf of Mexico and observe within the barrier island, the federally endangered lichen – Cladonia perforata. Please note that all or portions of this itinerary are subject to change due to military security issues. Alternative sites have already been pre-determined and promise to be of interest if the trip should have to be made off site. The trip will include a mix of short walks (just a small amount of bushwhacking) and quick stops out of the vehicle. Plan to get your feet wet, to be warm, and to have bugs in close proximity. Recommended field gear: shoes that are comfortable, but that can withstand getting wet or mucked up, sun protection (hat, sun-screen, or long-sleeve light colored shirt), lots of drinking water, and insect repellant. Each participant will be charged a $1.00 permit fee for access onto Eglin. Bring a picture ID card in case we have to show identification to military authorities and cash for a mid-day lunch stop.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 4 Ecological Restoration of Wet Pine Savannas of the Gulf Coastal Plain  Mississippi’s coastal habitats have long been regarded as important harbors of biological diversity.    The Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge was established as mitigation for the construction of I-10 through southern Mississippi and the last vestige of the Mississippi sandhill crane home range.   The Refuge was established to provide habitat for a sustainable population of the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane.   The National Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy, at Old Fort Bayou Mitigation Bank, have extensive programs devoted to restoring wet pine savanna, which is the main habitat used by the endangered crane.  Extensive burning programs and other restoration activities are being implemented.   The tour will visit the USFWS headquarters hiking trail which extends through one of the most spectacular examples of wet pine savanna/bayou system in Mississippi.  The exquisite diversity and color of the savanna is revealed after a prescribed burn has taken place.  During other stops to actual restoration areas, such as The Old Fort Bayou Mitigation Bank, the species composition and ecology of the wet pine savannas will be demonstrated.  The theory, methodology, challenges, and successes of ecological restoration of this ecologically important and endangered community will be reviewed.  Although this will be a leisurely tour, participants are asked to bring water, sun protection, and wear comfortable walking shoes and light clothing.  Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)



FT 5   The Barrier Islands of the Northern Gulf Coast and the World of Walter Anderson, Artist and Naturalist Extraordinaire  The barrier islands consist of sands deposited by  modal westward currents of the Gulf.  The islands form the outer boundary of the Mississippi Sound and coastal estuaries.  On the boat trip out to Horn Island, the tour guides will provide interesting discussions about the northern gulf ecosystem but ample opportunity will be available to view the Mississippi Sound and its picturesque coastal landscape.  Upon reaching Horn Island, part of a designated wilderness, the tour will focus on the ecology and flora of the island while weaving the story of the life and times of Walter Anderson, who, over a half century ago, restlessly and colorfully painted the landscape, flora, and fauna of this land of exquisite beauty.  Walter Anderson, a naturalist and artist, rowed and sailed to Horn Island and the Chandeleurs. He drew and painted the plants and animals, especially birds, in every conceivable stage and activity.  In 1985, Redding Sugg, Jr. published The Horn Island Logs of Walter Inglis Anderson - a document that includes his journal entries, drawings, and watercolors along with his philosophy and land ethic. His poignant writings as a naturalist ideals spell a vision that modern society could well heed today.  His relationship with Horn Island that matured over a period of 20 years is evident in his abundant works of art, which is currently housed in the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs.  Hopefully we can squeeze all of this into a one-day trip.  But we also need to visit the interpretive center at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Headquarters.  Please bring drinking water, insect repellent, and sun protection (hat, sun-screen).  Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 6  Coastal Plain Bogs and Longleaf Pine  Natural stands of longleaf pine and exceptionally diverse coastal plain bogs will be the highlights of this field trip to the De Soto National Forest of Mississippi.  Depending on time constraints, the stops could include visits to Buttercup Flats, Harrison Experimental Forest’s old growth longleaf pine stand, Ole Miss lands upland longleaf and bogs (Upper Railroad Creek), Moores Crossing, and Camp Shelby Training Site.  Other areas of interest include Tuxachane Trail, Leaf River Wilderness Area.  Longleaf pine forests representing a variety of moisture regimes will be visited.  Xeric sites are found at Harrison Experimental Forest and Little Florida (White Plains Conservation Site); mesic and wet sites are found on former Ole Miss lands and the Larue Longleaf Macrosite.  Species packing rates for the diverse bogs are among the highest of any vegetation type in North America, if not the world.  The bogs are sprinkled with yellow trumpets, pink orchids, butterworts, red lilies, bright orange milkweeds, white bog buttons, yellow sundews, and various meadow beauties.  Some areas may be wet; please wear proper footgear and bring water, insect repellent, and sun protection.  Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)

FT 7 Crosby Arboretum  If you want a glimpse of the diverse array of native plants of the northern Gulf Coast, the Crosby Arboretum is the place for you.  The Arboretum is packed with native plants in a variety of attractive landscaped settings.  Fewer and fewer places remain that return us to our origins in the natural world. The Crosby Arboretum serves to preserve our living heritage and deepen our understanding of the Earth’s environment.  It is a regional nature center celebrating the outdoors and the spirit of the people of south Mississippi.  Pinecote is a 64-acre educational center of The Crosby Arboretum.  Its is a former strawberry field and pine plantation converted to express the best elements of the Arboretum’s conservation areas of more than 1000 acres of interrelated plant communities and over 700 plant species.  Woodland, wetland, and savanna vegetation types are featured at the Arboretum.  The Crosby Arboretum invites you to explore the botanical legacy of the Piney Woods.  Fire is used to suppress some woody plants and encourage new tree and plant growth.  Plants are labeled to acquaint you to the wide variety of species native to the region.  Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)

FT 8 Botanical Highlights of Haines Island Recreation Area and Alabama’s Chalk Prairies  Located in the Red Hills of southern Alabama, Haines Island serves as a microcosm of the majestic pine – hardwood forests that were once commonplace throughout the region. Steep slopes forested with old growth Pinus glabra, Magnolia grandiflora, Fagus grandifolia, Quercus alba, and Fraxinus americana will greet the group as we explore several of the area’s footpaths. Reminiscent of the southern Appalachians, the site exemplifies a botanical crossroads where an array of northern species, near their southern geographical range limits, mingle with needle palm and Spanish moss, a flora more indicative of subtropical regions. From here we’ll travel north to Alabama’s premier prairie region, the Black Belt Physiographic Province, to witness a kaleidoscope of summer-blooming wildflowers and grasses that will conjure images of the mid-western prairies. A series of short stops will also be featured to introduce participants to the geological setting of the region, where visitors may observe samples of fossiliferous white chalk outcrops that sets the Black Belt apart from any other region in the Southeast. This tour will also be accented by discussions on the region’s rich cultural heritage that was instrumental in guiding the state’s historical legacy. Bring water, insect repellent, and sun protection. Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 9 River, Forest, and Swamp Boat Tour at Deaton Preserve of The Nature Conservancy   Take a jet boat for a spectacular trip along the upper Pascagoula River at the confluence of the Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers. This river system remains as one of the few undammed rivers of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Enjoy an up close and personal view of the patterns and processes of the river and its associated bottomland forest; see the raw power of the river and the vegetation within this floodplain system. View the variety of communities that occupy the levees, bottoms, and riverine swamps. Get to know the aquatic and bottomland species found here. Impressive cypress and water tupelo swamps and mixed hardwood bottomlands of oak, hickory, elm, sugarberry, and sweetgum, will catch your eye and send your imagination to primeval times. Lunch will be provided. Participants should bring water, insect repellent, and sun protection.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 10 Relict Longleaf Savannas and Embedded Habitat Interdependency on Conecuh National Forest  The rolling topography of the pine hills of the Conecuh National Forest hosts some of the finest remaining ecologically intact longleaf pine savannas to be found anywhere in the southeastern United States. An incredibly rich tapestry of grasses, wildflowers and relict longleaf awaits participants as they are guided on a series of short walks through an array of interconnected upland habitats, which interact with embedded rare communities to produce a landscape unique to the Southeast. Ecology, geology, restoration efforts, and the special adaptations of plants and animals to survive in this fire-dependent system are some of the topics to be discussed during the trip. Due to a high degree of endemism, as well restoration efforts that acknowledge the complex ecological interactions of habitats in the Lower Gulf Coastal Plain, the Conecuh National Forest acts as a haven to such rare treasured species such as Lilium iridollae, Ruella noctiflora, and a wealth of wild orchids. Although topography won’t be challenging, participants should be prepared for hot weather (temperatures in the mid to upper 90s and humidity ranging from 80-100%); wear suitable clothing for the conditions, including long pants, hats, sturdy boots and sun protection. Drinking water will be provided  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 11 Ferns of the Alabama Red Hills in Monroe and Conecuh Counties  The Alabama Red Hills is a botanical crossroads where some northern species have found a refugium and the southern species flourish in the subtropical habitats. Dryopteris celsa and Adiantum pedatum can be found as well as their more southern counterparts, Dryopteris ludoviciana and Adiantum capillus-veneris. These old growth Beech-Magnolia woods are also host to a number of other fern species such as Pleopeltis polypodiodies, Thelypteris ovata, Pteris multifida, Woodsia obtusa, Asplenium platyneuron, and Athyrium filix-femina. Several tropical species of ferns such as Cyrtomium falcatum, Lygodium japonicum and Deparia petersonii , have invaded these areas If we search hard enough, we might find Trichomanes petersii growing at the base of the Southern Magnolia or America Beech. Please be prepared for hot muggy weather and it is highly recommended that you wear long pants and boots that you don’t mind getting wet. You will also need sun and insect protection and plenty of water. Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 12   Coastal Dune System at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge  The coastal dune systems of the Alabama and Florida panhandle coast are a unique and increasingly rare community type. This remarkable community type consists of coastline, open dunes, fresh and salt water marshes, interdunal swales, scrub habitat, and upland mixed pine-hardwood forests. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge serves as an important stop over for neotropical migratory birds as well as nesting sites for green and loggerhead turtles. The trip will be on a marked trail of approximately 0.8-1.0 miles in length; some of the trail has deep sand and part of the trail will be in scrub habitat, so a hat and fluids are recommended due to the severe heat that can be present during this time of the year on the Alabama coast. We will see a wide variety of plant species from several species of oaks that grow only along the coast in xeric conditions to a number of wetland species of both fresh and salt water systems, to include a myriad of Hypericum spp. Part of the trail also traverses a more mixed, mesic coastal plain pine-hardwood forest as well. Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 13 Gulf Coast Maritime Forest Exploratory Tour   Maritime forests have become one of the most imperiled plant systems along the Gulf Coast. Formerly widespread throughout the region, all that now remain are small isolated vestiges such as this example at Orange Beach, Alabama. Stately live oaks festooned with Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) and colonies of resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides var. michauxiana) will impart a classic image of southern charm that the participant will not soon forget. Botanically, maritime forests function as a refuge for a suite of shade-loving species unable to tolerate the hot windy conditions of the surrounding pinelands. Highlighting this tour will be an impressive array of plant life uniquely adapted to the specialized environmental setting of this association, including several global and regional rarities such as needle palm, nodding nixie, loblolly bay, Arkansas oak, and if we’re lucky the state’s only epiphytic orchid, the greenfly orchid (Epidendrum conopseum). Walking will be easy, but participants may wish to bring drinking water and insect repellent. Lunch will be provided. (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 14 Botanical Treasures of Clear Creek  Participants will experience a good representation of the region’s floral diversity on a leisurely 1.5-mile walk along the Clear Creek Nature Trail. This trail, established at the Whiting Field Naval Air Station near Milton, Florida, also features a 2,000-foot boardwalk that will enable visitors to examine a rich assortment of vegetation and wildlife unique to the wetlands of the Southeast, including striking showcases of the globally threatened white-top pitcher-plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) and Coville’s rush (Juncus gymnocarpus). After lunch at a nearby picnic area, we will travel to M. G. Mayo Park to observe one of the world’s only few known occurrences of the Florida pondweed (Potamogeton floridanus), a narrow endemic confined to blackwater streams of the western Florida Panhandle and adjacent Alabama. Bring drinking water and sun protection. Lunch will be provided. (Back to Field Trip Summary))


FT 15 Marsh and Bottomland Forest/Swamp Boat Tour   The Pascagoula River is one of the northern hemisphere’s largest free flowing river systems. The river and both of its major tributaries, the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers remain undammed. The extensive coastal marsh and bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem of the Pascagoula River present over 100,000 acres of forested habitat for exploration. The tour will begin with a stop at a beech-magnolia bluff forest, representing areas somewhat protected from natural fires. The mesic habitats support a diverse mixed semi-deciduous hardwood forest of massive trees, including six species of magnolias, silky camelia, needle palm, and yellow crested orchis. From there the group will transfer to boats for a float trip down the river through the Pascagoula floodplain forest. The flora and ecology of the bottomland forests will be studied along the way. Continuing southward, the vegetation changes along a gradient of tidal influence and salinity. The vegetation gradually changes from bottomland forest to swamp, then to dwarf swamp and shrublands and finally to marshlands at about 7 miles above the mouth of the river. The saline gradient effects the composition of the marsh, allowing a diverse mixture of herbs in the freshwater zone to less diverse brackish zone dominated by black needlerush. Participants are asked to being plenty of water and sun protection (long-sleeve shirt, sun-screen, hat). Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 16  Ecology and Species of Brackish Marsh and Salt Pannes of the Northern Gulf  A boat trip will take us from the Bayou Cumbest or Bayou Heron landing to view the marshes and open waters of the Mississippi Sound. Representative habitats of the area include the ancient delta of the Escatawpa River, old levees, shell middens, historically deposited by American Indians, the expansive irregularly flooded marshes, and the backdrop of pine savannas. This panorama presents an uplifting view of coastal Mississippi and gulf waters. The marsh ecosystem will be studied at convenient stops along the bayou tour. The irregularly flooded marshes are dominated by Juncus roemarianus but also contain a fringe of Spartina alterniflora. Various salt tolerant species of Batis, Distichlis, Salicornia, and Sueda species occupy the salt pannes. The ecology and the variety of species that occupy the marshes and salt pannes will be the highlight of the trip. A diverse array of birds, fishes, and crustaceans are supported by this rich estuarine system. The Grand Bay Reserve and Refuge are composed of a contiguous system of wetlands, from the brackish marshes in the south, to the cypress/pitcher plant bogs several miles to the north. An additional stop will be made within the Refuge to view the incredible plant diversity found within the wet pine savannas, which includes a large population of Sarracinia rosea. Bring drinking water and sun protection. Lunch will be provided. (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 17 Perdido River Canoe Trip  The Perdido River originates in the Gulf Coastal Plain Physiographic Province gently meandering along the Alabama-Florida state line for nearly 60 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Recognized as one of the premier canoeing streams along the northern Gulf Coast, the river is lined with sugar white sandbars, magnificent stands of Atlantic white cedar, cypress swamps, and in a few places, the globally imperiled West Florida pondlily (Nuphar lutea ssp. ulvacea). This 5-mile trip will feature a series of short stops where we will learn about the rich cultural history and remarkable natural heritage that has come to make this area so special. Depending on seasonal precipitation, we may encounter strong currents, so some canoeing experience is desirable. Bring drinking water, swimming gear (optional), sun protection (sun-screen, hat), and wear light clothing. No bathrooms. Glass bottles are not permitted on the river. Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 18 Mesic Ravine Forests at Historic Blakeley State Park and Weeks Bay Pitcher-plant Bog  The 3,800-acre Historic Blakeley State Park contains some of the finest examples of mesic ravine forests to be found along the Gulf Coast. Situated along the eastern side of the Mobile – Tensaw River Delta, the park also contains an exemplary representation of bottomland hardwood forest, accented by a myriad of cypress-lined sloughs. The park is regionally renown for its exceptional floral diversity, serving as the southern range limit for plants more commonly found further north such as Magnolia macrophylla and Gentiana catesbaei. Once departing from Historic Blakeley State Park, we will embark on a scenic tour to our next stop, the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Reserve. This visit will feature a series of boardwalks that will introduce the participant to coastal swamp forests and an outstanding example of pitcher-plant bog, homes to some the region’s rarest and most cherished plant species, including four kinds of Sarracenia, Lilium catesbaei, and Platanthera integra. The pace of the trip will coincide with lunch at a local seafood restaurant (cost not included with trip price). Participants are suggested to bring drinking water, insect repellent, sun protection, and wear suitable clothing for short leisurely walks. A $2.00 entrance fee is required for Historic Blakeley State Park.    (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 19 Boat tour of the Mobile – Tensaw River Delta  Together, the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta and the adjacent Mobile Bay estuary form the largest intact wetland system in North America, draining more than 60 percent of Alabama and portions Georgia and Mississippi. The maze of waterways, swamps, and forests that characterize the 300,000-acre delta is home to a remarkable diversity of plant and animal life. From the comfort of a canopied pontoon boat participants may catch a glimpse of the Southeast’s rarest and most cherished wildlife such as the American alligator, swallow-tail kite, and the endemic Alabama red-bellied turtle. The delta also functions as a refuge for an exceptional concentration of plant life, hosting an array of rare species in addition to impressive displays of American lotus (Nelumbo lutea), rose-mallows (Hibiscus spp), and various iris (Iris spp.) This tour will include at least one stop where visitors may disembark and experience the region’s solitude and wilderness qualities, perhaps evoking images and thoughts associated with pre-settlement times. Muddy conditions and biting insects are likely to be encountered, so participants are strongly encouraged to bring insect repellent and wear low-cut boots or shoes that can get wet. Lunch will be provided.    (Back to Field Trip Summary)


FT 20  Pitcher-Plant Savannas and Barrier Island Dunes: Two Contrasting Environments of the Gulf Coastal Plain  The Grand Bay region in the southwestern-most portion of Alabama and adjacent Mississippi supports some of the finest longleaf pine – slash pine savanna flatwoods systems to be found in the Southeast. Characterized as a mosaic of open pine savannas, cypress stringer swamps, gum ponds, and sluggishly meandering coastal streams, the site has been well known to bird and plant enthusiasts for its remarkable concentration of wildlife and rich diversity of flora. Designated as a “Last Great Place” by the Nature Conservancy, the complex of habitats at Grand Bay contain no less than 55 plant and animal species classified as rare or endangered by the Mississippi and Alabama Natural Heritage Programs. After lunch at a local seafood restaurant (cost not included in trip price), we will visit the Dauphin Island Audubon Sanctuary to observe a striking example of Gulf coastal scrub and learn about the ecology and management issues now confronting this unique habitat. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes that can get wet. Drinking water, sun-screen, and a hat are also recommended.   (Back to Field Trip Summary)

FT21  Lichens and Bryophytes of the Mobile Area- Several bryological and lichenological collecting sites will be visited in the Alabama Red Hills, including old growth Beech-Magnolia woods that provide a variety of unique habitats for epiphytes. Haines Island in Monroe County, Ala. includes old growth Pinus glabra, Magnolia grandiflora, M. virginiana, M. macrophylla, Fagus grandifolia, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus alba, and Fraxinus americana, Carpinus caroliniana, Ilex opaca, Liquidambar styraciflua along stream ravines and steep slopes. We also plan to visit "Liverwort Gorge" and the Salt Mountain limestone area near Dothan, Ala., and a state wildlife area near Jackson, Ala. Numerous bryophyte species in the genera Riccardia, Rectolejeunea, Fissidens, Conocephalum, Marchantia and Cololejeunea can be observed and collected. Please be prepared for hot weather, wear long pants and bring boots. You will also need sun and insect protection and plenty of water. Lunch will be provided.  (Back to Field Trip Summary)