The Nature Conservancy maintains a wonderful preserve on Great Wass Island in Downeast Maine. The 1575 acre tract includes coniferous forest with a stand of Jack Pine, peat bogs, and lots of exposed granite bedrock and sand beaches.
The preserve brochure says the trails are "rough, rocky and difficult" and they are not exaggerating. The two trails make a 6 mile loop, and as the directions say, "your hike will take longer than you think."
Wife Olivia and I did the loop...and here are some photos of what we saw.
Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
The Jack Pine is along a high point ridge....very Zen looking and quite unusual here in Maine.
We took the Little Cape Point Trail through the center of the island. We found conifers, mixed hardwoods and some beautiful forest glades.....and some tough going through Sheep Laurel.
Mountain Cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea).
Thanks to the stewards for the bog boardwalks....protecting both the hikers and the bog.
Round- leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)
Another carnivorous plant....
Pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea)
The Pitcher plant's flower....on a very long stem.
Common clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum)
Along the way we met a very tame female Spruce Grouse (Dendragapus canadensis)
and her chick!
Sheep laurel (Calmia angustifolia)
It was a long hike to the beach...time for a picnic lunch!
There are several botanical rarities on the preserve....including the Beach Head Iris.....but there is also the Northern Blue Flag which is quite common. I had taken some notes and recalled that the Blue Flag leaves are as tall, or taller, than the flower stems.
Bummer.....this was Iris versicolor, the Northern Blue Flag.
Wish I could remember all that I read!
Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
Coastal Silverweed (Argentina egedii)
We saw two beautiful Fritillaries.....Atlantis and Great Spangled...very hard to tell apart.
BUT....when you get the photos cropped-up on the computer you can see the eye color! Gray blue for the Atlantis and yellow green for the Great Spangled. Above is
Great Spangled Frittilary (Speyeria cybele)
Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis)
They were both busy nectaring on Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Saltmarsh Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora)
Knotted Pearlwort (Sagina nodosa)
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicus)
Knotted Wrack seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum)
Marsh Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)
WOW....The leaves are shorter than the flower stems!
Eureka! Beach Head Iris (Iris Hookeri)....what a find....well worth the long hike to the beach!
Next trip we plan to be looking at lichen.....could this be
Thanks to The Nature Conservancy for the opportunity to explore this wonderful island preserve.