Friday, August 13, 2010


I’m constantly watching for clues to past activities at Blue Jay Barrens and trying to divine the consequences of those activities. There’s a narrow area that begins at the corner of a field and runs up into the woods. I believe it’s an old logging road. A logical conclusion is that trees have been cut and removed from the woods. I wonder what else could have happened.

Along the edges of the narrow strip are several Ninebarks, Physocarpus opulifolius, a type of low growing shrub. These shrubs are of the Rose family and share the arching cane growth pattern of many shrubby roses.

The lobed leaves have the general appearance of maple leaves. It’s an attractive shrub, but that’s not why I find it so interesting. I’m curious about where it came from. My suspicions are aroused because I’ve not found it growing anywhere but along the edge of that abandoned road. Has it always been a resident of this area or did seeds arrive as hitchhikers on a piece of logging equipment?

Abundant fruit was produced this year. In fact, every year seems to be a good fruiting year, in spite of the fact that about half the top growth dies each year. Wouldn’t something that fruits so freely be a little more widely distributed? Maybe not, it it’s a fairly recent arrival to the area.

The seeds are contained within husks clustered in groups of three or four. The husks are quite tough and seem ideally suited to being raked from their branch by passing equipment and deposited in a new location.

The Ninebark only grows where the road has remained open, which amounts to about a hundred foot stretch. You can see evidence of the road going up into the woods. A relatively straight path is free of all mid to large sized trees.

Could the Ninebark be a recent introduction to the site? It definitely could and I suspect is. Does it matter to my management plan? No. If I was trying to restore the site to a pre-existing condition, it would be important to know its origin. My management plan involves maintaining healthy populations of native plants and animals that have survived on this site. Despite the fact that I won’t introduce any new plants or animals to Blue Jay Barrens, those native species that got here before me are free to stay. I just figure that this guy slipped in under the wire.


  1. Hi Steve...I find it interesting to come upon an area like that and wonder what made it like that.. what had been there previously ..and how long ago...was there a small strip of a field left..logging trail or what!!
    There is about a hundred acres in back of me full of rock walls and I believe alot was pastures land hay fields and the like!!
    It does appear to look like a maple of some type doesnt it..interesting looking seed pods...ya and where did it come from the plant on my last post that I'm still don't know how it got here!!

  2. I always think of lizards when I see rock walls. I can imagine people spending weeks building those walls. I guess they had to do something since they couldn't sit around the house watching TV or blogging.