Throwback Thursday: At Captain Forster Hammock Preserve

March 28, 2008 is when the photo above was taken. Sorely missed from this world are Maggy Taylor (Class of 2004) seated at the left and Joel Day (Class of 2005) standing toward the front. How swiftly comes change!

Note the extensive bowstring hemp (Sansevieria hyacinthoides ), also commonly called mother-in-law’s tongue and snake plant, and the branch of Australian pine (Casuarina sp.) at the top left. These invasive pest plants are gone.

Joyce Thompson (Class of 2006), who is seated second from the left and her husband Dave, center back, have hosted us at their nearby home for the past five years, most recently on March 19, 2017. Our group photo was taken a the start of the walk beneath a large strangler fig (Ficus aurea) tree near the preserve entrance …

The tree did not provide much shade because it had been defoliated by the winds of Hurricane Matthew in early October of 2016. For comparison, here is a photo from March 24, 2012 …

A wonderful change has taken place at Captain Forster on the west side of Highway A1A. An invasive plant control team from the Institute for Regional Conservation, that same team that did extensive work at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, has treated the Brazilian pepper (Schinus terbinthifolius), bowstring hemp, and Australian pine trees. The Brazilian pepper remnants remain to decompose, and the biomass of bowstring hemp and Australian pines have been removed. What we thought were historic steps when they were enshrouded by bowstring hemp now appear to a grill.

And, where bowstring hemp and Australian pine once predominated, native beach plants have begun to “volunteer”, including beach dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis) …

… and the far less come beach annual sea rocket (Cakile lanceolata), which we also saw at Treasure Shores Park field trip on 6/3/2017

Note the rocket-shaped seed pod in the bottom center of the sea rocket photo above. This plant is a larval host plant for the great southern white butterfly (Ascia monuste). It also is a nectar sources for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

So wonderful to see native plants begin to take back the coastal strand that had been out-competed by invasive pest plants.

Special thanks to Bob Emerson, who leads the invasive plant control volunteers at Captain Forester Preserve, shown below on the left with Dave Thompson, and the volunteers who work with him including Joyce Thompson and Norval Stephens (Class of 2010).

We hope for as beautiful a day when we visit next March, a day that will bring smiles and friends, like Barbie Martz (Class of 2012) and her pal Tammy Gall …

Take notice of the “seating” behind the ladies: Cut stumps of Australian pine trees effectively re-purposed.

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