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Beyond the Parking Lot

Flooded field in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina

You never really have to go far to botanize. Spending a day in the mountains or in a state park is nice, but sometimes all you need to do is walk to the edge of the parking lot!

Ocean Isle Beach Agalinis

This field beside a Lowe’s Foods near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, is a textural sweep of fall color and wildflowers. Beach false foxglove (Agalinis fasciculata) bobs in the breeze at the edge of the muck.

Agalinis fasciculata Beach False Foxglove

I think my thumb is clearer in this picture than the inside of the flower is, but it’s pretty in there, dotted and luminous.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

Fresh succulence dots the sandy path and relieves the melancholic tug of waning light and fading plants.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

Grasses and young loblolly pines dominate higher and drier expanses of the field.

Rustweed (Polypremum procumbens)

Was this poor plant victim of a worker using spray paint to mark something? In his field guide Wildflowers of the Sandhills Region, Bruce Sorrie says that everyone has probably seen this plant, but I had either not seen it or never noticed. It is rustweed (Polypremum procumbens), and that crazy orange is its natural fall color!

Ocean Isle Beach Turkey Tails

A turkeytail fungus (Trametes versicolor) grows on the remnants of a woody stem covered with sand.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

Thoroughworts (Eupatorium spp.) and other asteraceous plants have bloomed out, but their fluffy seedheads still provide food for wildlife.

Ocean Isle Beach Field Flora

Further along, the plant cover is more dense and shrubby.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

That row of palms in the background above is the entrance to a new neighborhood.

Ocean Isle Beach Development

Here’s the view of the field from the neighborhood entrance. Plants under the palms leave a little to be desired if you’ve gotten to know the field even a little bit.

Ocean Isle Beach Development

Native pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is much better than pruned-to-death (quite literally!) loropetalum, but even that is far less compelling than the wild and wonderful just beyond. Let’s backtrack a little and see what else we can find there.

Ocean Isle Beach Baccharis

Sea myrtle (Baccharis halimifolia) opens its foamy white blooms.

Ocean Isle Beach Sea Myrtle

Come in close for a view of sea myrtle’s female flowers.

Ocean Isle Beach Shrub

Inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) doles out its black berries to birds all winter long.

Ocean Isle Beach Shrub

A titi (Cyrilla racemiflora)! Dangling strings of beads make pretty plant jewelry, don’t they?

Ocean Isle Beach Plants

Seedbox (Ludwigia sp.) is more interesting in fruit than in bloom. Those square-topped capsules are worth marveling.

Ocean Isle Beach Fall Color

Just look at the incredible diversity in this small field! Is that sumac beside the sea myrtle? And the goldenrods are fabulous. I hope you enjoy the lush view as much as I do. Take a look beyond a parking lot near you soon and see what you can find.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

There are hours and hours of happy discoveries here.

Happy botanizing, friends!

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Awesome! I’m feeling a little jealous but we can find some neat things around here, too. Striking, the difference in biodiversity between those disappearing, wild places and the all-too-frequent, new-fangled development. Ugh. It hurts my soul. But, I love your post!

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