Saturday, March 7, 2009

Suitland Bog, MD

Today, a small group of us visited the Suitland Bog in Maryland to help with some conservation work. This is one of the few remaining bogs in the Washington DC area and came close to disappearing forever during the 1960's when the immediate surrounding area was mined for sand and gravel. The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission purchased 20 acres in 1975 and a small area of the bog is now fenced off to protect the natural habitat.

Much of the bog's vegetation is resting at this time of year but we saw evidence of much new growth and learned from Chris, the Park Ranger the need to pull specific plants and trees which were encroaching on the area and considered invasive.

A boardwalk has been erected to keep people off the area as invasive seeds can be brought in from the outside on the bottoms of peoples' shoes.

There are many rare and beautiful plants growing in the bog, much of which are considered endangered. Sphagnum moss lives here too and Chris demonstrated its ability to hold water by picking some up and literally wringing out a torrent of water.

The plants above are carniverous Pitcher Plants which hold rain water in a 'trap' to drown and digest insects and spiders. The photo immediately above shows a captured insect. There are also two types of sundew plants living in the bog which capture insects with a sticky flypaper method but these don't emerge until later in the spring.

We saw this pretty snake on the ground as we were putting our bags down and preparing to work. Chris thought it might be a Queen snake.

Our task for the afternoon was to pull Japanese Honeysuckle up as this invasive plant was getting out of control. The roots networked under the leaves and earth but pulling them up was relatively easy.

This was our pile of roots which we'd gathered, a small dent in the neverending workload that needs to be done in this protected area. If any groups want to help in this work, you can e-mail Chris, the Park Ranger, at


Heideldy Deideldy said...

Ummmm Pretty Snake? Those weeds must have gone to your head! hahahahahaha

Debby Karalee said...

You're funny! I do like snakes and have actually stroked the head of a cottonmouth, but that was before I'd identified it!

Anonymous said...

I think the snake is a Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi).

Chris, the Park Ranger

Anonymous said...

it is a northern brown snake

Debby Karalee said...

Thank you for the identification.