Garden News Blog

Seed Collecting in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Last week a handful of BBG staff piled into a bus with Native Flora Garden curator Uli Lorimer and director of Science Gerry Moore for a day of collecting seeds in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Though excited to leave our desks, there might have been a bit of trepidation on the bus. Our crew consisted mainly of folks from Development, and with a few exceptions, none of us had ever been out in the field.

The bus made several stops. We tramped around a marshy meadow just off the highway, scrambled through a cranberry bog replete with 20 species of Sphagnum, and finally hiked into a miniature savannah peppered with carnivorous pitcher plants and waving cotton-grass. A favorite spot was Wharton State Forest, a stretch of protected land striking in its ecological diversity; tall pines reach high above a white sandy floor, but just a half a mile distant the sand gives way to a dark, tea-colored bog full of late-blooming grasses, sweetbay magnolia, and red maple.

This was not just a learning expedition, however: After leaving Wharton State Park, our friends in Horticulture needed our help collecting the seeds of some common grassland species. Uli and Gerry patiently demonstrated which plants were needed and how to gather the ripe seeds without damaging the plant. These seeds will now undergo a multiyear process of germination and propagation and will be ready to plant in time for the expansion of the Native Flora Garden. It will be incredible to see the distinctive and beautiful vistas we witnessed in the Pine Barrens re-created at BBG!

Claire Hansen

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