Friday, July 15, 2016

A Hike to Bald Knob Area Preserve in Rocky Mount

Piedmont Fameflower (not blooming) with a few Prickly Pear

Overlooking Grassy Hill and Rocky Mount
from the summit of Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve

Recently 15 hardy souls hiked up to the summit of Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve in Rocky Mount. The high temperatures, high humidity and highly likelihood of storms moving in, could not lessen our high hopes of seeing the bloom of the rare Piedmont Fameflower (Phemeranthus piedmontanus). This species is found in only a handful of locations worldwide, and the landscape on which it grows is unique itself. Classified as ‘Piedmont mafic barren’, the exposed rocks are little affected by weather, and the scant soils that result from the weathering process have unique chemical compositions.

Our group, comprised of BRFAL Master Naturalists, Natural Heritage Stewards of DCR, an Ecology and Earth Science teacher as well as other local trail stewards. We enjoyed a view overlooking Rocky Mount and Grassy Hill in the distance, while waiting for the Fameflower to bloom. Although there were vast numbers of plants, they did not seem to get the memo that they were supposed to bloom at midday, so we were lucky to see only a few actually blooming.

Other species that we spotted were the Day Flower, Coral Berry, Prickly Pear, Primrose, Boneset and Black Moss (Grimmia sp) to name but a few.

Because this site has been recently been purchased by DCR (with funding from Land & Water Conservation Fund and  Virginia Land Conservation Foundation) and is now under protection of development, plans in the works to maintain, manage and preserve the existing barrens, woods, grasslands and water resources. We (BRFAL) hope to provide some assistance in these endeavors.

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