Field Trip Report – Poison Springs State Forest & Preserve

Meredith York, field trip leader, and Mike Weatherford, ANPS member, showed up at the E-Z Mart in Chidester, Arkansas, on September 19, 2015, for what some might call a lightly-attended event.

We know that on this warm, sunny Saturday morning there were many ANPS members forced to attend football games or sit in boring boats on picturesque lakes. We just know they were wanting to be with us to visit one of the tracts included in the Poison Springs State Forest Sand Barren & Oak-Pine Forest Preserve.

Jointweed - Polygonella americanaPhoto 1: The barrens were white with jointweed (Polygonella americana) in full bloom.

This natural area, managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, includes more than 400 acres of sandhill barrens and adjacent woodlands. Knowing that botanical riches were abundant in this preserve, Meredith and I pressed ahead and observed many interesting plants. We found the barrens white with jointweed (Polygonella americana) and cottonweed (Froelichia floridana) in full bloom. Other plants were also blooming, including scratch daisy (Croptilon divaricatum), elegant gayfeather (Liatris elegans), Louisiana goldenrod (Solidago ludoviciana), purple false foxglove (Agalinis tenuifolia), smooth yellow false foxglove (Aureolaria flava), forked blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum), and many-flowered buckwheat (Eriogonum multiflorum) to name a few. See a more complete plant list below.

Jointweed - Polygonella americana - and pollinatorPhoto 2: Bees and other pollinators were busy on the tiny white or pale-pink flowers of the jointweed.

After the hike we were thirsty and drank deeply from the poison spring. There were no after-effects from drinking the spring water. However, I have noticed that a third eye has appeared in the center of my forehead. It sees infrared and operates independently of my other eyes, constantly scanning my surroundings. Very cool. I am sure its appearance is just a coincidence.

Cottonweed - Floelichia floridanaPhoto 3: Each cottonweed (Froelichia floridana) flower spike is densely packed with white woolly flowers that are arranged in 5 spirals. When mature, the flower heads take on a cottony appearance.

Meredith, a long-time ANPS member, deserves much credit for faithfully monitoring and photographing native plants in the Poison Spring area for many years. Speaking on behalf of the field trip attendees, I thank him for leading this interesting field trip.

False Foxglove - Agalinis spPhoto 4: Purple false foxglove (Agalinis tenuifolia) plants, with their small but eye-catching rose-purple blooms, were scattered throughout the area.

Here is a partial list of the plants we found:

  1. Smooth Yellow False Foxglove – Aureolaria flava
  2. Louisiana Goldenrod – Solidago ludoviciana
  3. Golden Aster – Bradburia pilosa
  4. Elegant Gayfeather – Liatris elegans
  5. Southern Blazing Star – Liatris squarrulosa
  6. Rabbit Tobacco – Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
  7. Cottonweed – Froelichia floridana
  8. Jointweed – Polygonella americana
  9. Forked Blue Curls – Trichostema dichotomum
  10. Scratch-Daisy – Croptilon divaricatum
  11. Partridge Berry – Mitchella repens
  12. Carolina Elephant’s Foot – Elephantopus carolinianus
  13. Hairy Elephant’s Foot – Elephantopus tomentosus
  14. Pale-Spike Lobelia – Lobelia spicata
  15. Pink Wild Bean – Strophostyles umbellata
  16. White Four O’clock – Mirabilis albida
  17. Heartleaf Spurge – Euphorbia cordifolia
  18. Purple False foxglove – Agalinis tenuifolia

Pink Wild Bean - Strophostyles umbellataPhoto 5: A single bloom of the pink wild bean (Strophostyles umbellata) stood out against the parched sandy soil of the barrens.

Pink Wild Bean - Strophostyles umbellataPhoto 6: Easy to overlook, we found ground-hugging heartleaf spurge (Euphorbia cordifolia), with its tiny flowers and red stems, growing beside the trail.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Michael Weatherford

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