Serpentine!

Photographs from some local serpentine barrens — areas that are naturally toxic due to the magnesium, cobalt, nickel, chromium, asbestos, other nasties leaching out from the green serpentine rocks (California’s state rock). Serpentine soil is also famously low in phosphorous and potassium, so not many plants can grow on it.  Here’s a typical patch of rock (from Nottingham pine barrens in Pennsylvania):

At the Nottingham serpentine barrens in Chester County.

Below is a close-up of the rocks themselves.  I liked the central rock because of its serpentine (wavy, snakelike) marbling. From Pink Hill barrens at the Tyler Arboretum in Media, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a view of a serpentine barrens at Nottingham barrens.  If you were to take a close look at these pines, a lot of them have scorched bark from a recent prescribed burn that was conducted to restore native plants to the area.

At the Nottingham serpentine barrens in Chester County.

The flower below is moss phlox (Phlox subulata) at Pink Hill.  The plant is absolutely adorable.  I’m a sucker for any plant that assumes a moss-like habit.

Colin Purrington Photography: Tyler Arboretum &emdash; Moss phlox (Phlox subulata).

Below is a close-up of some sort of sedge, possibly Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica), but I didn’t have any fruit so I can’t be sure (tentative ID courtesy Dr Roger Latham of Dr Roger Latham at Continental Conservation).  But I’m positive it’s adorable, though not mossy in habit.  Photograph also from Pink Hill barrens.

Richardson's sedge (Carex richardsonii), I think. Happy to be corrected.

More serpentine photographs here.

About Colin Purrington

PhD in evolutionary biology • twitterinstagram

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