This summer, I'm leading walks Sunday afternoons in various nature preserves in Princeton. The goal is to better our acquaintance with the various preserves, and also to conduct plant inventories along the trails that will be published later this year in the Princeton Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI). The ERI is being updated for the first time since 1978.
Our first outing was to Woodfield Reservation, located on the northwest side of town, near Princeton Day School. The preserve's trails are in excellent condition, thanks in particular to all the work that volunteer Andrew Love of nearby TenAcre has done over the years.
There were many pleasant surprises along the way. The first photo shows spires of black cohosh just about to bloom. For some reason, native species like maple-leaved Viburnum, a leguminous vine called Hog Peanut, and various ferns are more abundant here than at Mountain Lakes Preserve. There's also an impressive patch of maidenhair fern.
A map (found on the web at njtrails.org) is very useful for navigating to Council Rock (framed by the elbowed tree in the photo), which lives up to its name, jutting out over a broad, rock-strewn valley--a great playscape for kids.
Rising from the valley are towering tulip poplars and black gum. The photo shows black gum's distinctive bark.