Utilities work has begun on a ‘community’ down the street – a place that previously hosted a mix of Mockernut Hickory, Carya tomentosa, Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera, Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, and Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria. As the crow flies (or perhaps, osprey), this site is about 1800 feet from the Intracoastal Waterway, and a whole lot of salt marsh. The soil is sandy and fast-draining, and for the neighborhood kids, the beginnings of site preparation have made for some great ‘terrain’ in a place where our topo could accurately be described as ‘flat.’ It’s hard to watch the trenches being dug, trees being chopped, and riprap being installed – especially when we know what is coming will be more of the same homogeneous ‘Southern Heritage’ homes landscaped with crape myrtles! As sad as this makes us, there are still interesting things to notice (and record…) as they begin the accelerated artificial ‘succession’ to suburbia!
We have been worried about the seeming low number of butterflies and moths we are seeing this year – it could be the bizarre ice storms we had earlier, and/or it could be exponential increase in land-clearing. But on a sunny day, after a huge rain, the site has come to life with a few species that are taking advantage of the bare soils and temporary puddles.
It’s fascinating to see the combination of native colonizing species that are competing with the invasives. Chinese Tallow, Sapium sebiferum, (not shown!) is in great abundance, and nothing (of course) is eating it. On the flatter ‘homepad’ areas, particularly where drainage is slightly poorer, there is the lovely Rustweed, Polypremum procumbens, and Virginia Buttonweed, Diodia virginiana (two more plants that are considered to be ‘lawn pests.’ Yikes. As usual, better living through chemistry?!) A fascinating find is the clumps of a Hypericum species – not sure which, yet!