What Is In Bloom In July?
You can’t help but notice the sweet smell of the pines in July. The days can be long and hot but are made bearable by witnessing the variety of life flourishing everywhere one looks. From midsummer wildflowers in bloom to fantastic fungi displaying themselves and spiders roaming the pine needle-covered ground, there are always flora and fauna to be seen.
During midsummer in the Pine Barrens, we will see fewer wildflowers in bloom than in springtime, but we have the privilege to see the Turk’s-cap lily, Lilium superbum, blooming in early July. The six yellow-orange petals with red dots make themselves easily known against the green and tan shades of the Pinelands. Keep your eyes peeled for the Turk’s-cap lily in swamps or low grounds with moist soil. This native perennial wildflower plant is well-liked by pollinators, butterflies, and hummingbirds due to its nectar. According to stories passed down over the years, the lily got its common name from the petals and sepals resting in an inverted position while in full bloom, which resembles a traditional Turkish hat.
Spiders don’t seem to be the favorite arachnids for most people, but there are plenty of them to be found while exploring the Pinelands. The jumping spider is a member of the Salticidae family and is a hunting spider, which means it hunts its prey instead of catching prey in a web. The jumping spider has eight eyes, but the middle two are larger than the others so that the spider can identify its predators or prey within four to eight inches away. When the jumping spider hunts, it will create a dragline so that once the prey is captured the spider can easily return to its starting location.
Fungi make up a large classification of living organisms from bacteria and slime molds to earthstars and mushrooms. When looking at fungi, we often see the fruiting bodies above ground and below ground exists mycelium. Mycelium is what creates the fruiting bodies and is made up of hyphae, a network of filamentous structures. Fungi cannot create food for themselves and rely on organic matter, such as decaying wood. The earthstar, Geastrum triplex, is commonly found on the sand in the Pine Barrens. In the middle is a soft sac that holds thousands of spores used for reproduction. Around the protective sac are four to eight sections that lay out like a star. If external pressure is applied to the inner sac, spores release and travel until they find a new place to grow.
There are always new species to meet or learn about when exploring the Pinelands. Although the Pinelands might seem like just a vast forest of pitch pine trees, it reveals secret wonders to those who slow down and explore the world around them.