Washington Valley Park, Somerset County


East Section,
SPRING

This year, 2015, we were able to visit this area twice during the spring: 4/29 and 6/3. The east section is the area around the East Branch Reservoir. To access the east section we parked on a lot along Gilbride Road, just as the road crosses over the Middle Brook.
Map: Washington Valley Trail Map

The first time we picked up the yellow trail on the south side of the road and went south along the east side of the brook and up over the dam/waterfall and down the slope to the other side of the dam. Further on down, there were some concrete slabs that went across the brook which we were able to take to the other side the brook. Then we went back north along the orange trail. We found many plants in bloom.

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ Along our south bound path, there was a good sprinkling of spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) and good size patches of trout lily (Erythronium americanum) in bloom and some cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata). To our surprise we found some bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in bloom. Photo to the left. Normally, we are too late and just get to see the leaves.

Photos of spring beauty    Photos of trout lily 

Photos of cutleaf toothwort    More photos of bloodroot


Also not as commom, we saw in bloom: round-lobed hepatica (Anemone americana), rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), and wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia). Early saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis) flowers were easy to spot on the slopes.

Flower of Round lobed Hepatica - Anemone americana in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ Leaves of Round lobed Hepatica - Anemone americana in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ To the left are photos of the round-lobed hepatica (Anemone americana) flower and leaves.


Wood anemone - Anemone quinquefolia in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ Rue anemone - Thalictrum thalictroides  in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ To the rignt are photos of rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), and wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia).

More rue anemone photos 

More wood anemone photos 


Early saxifrage - Saxifraga virginiensis in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ Dutchman's Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria  in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ To the left are photos of early saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis) flowers and Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria).


After we crossed to the otherside, we had to look for the orange trail. We found a lush rock outcropping with Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) which are less common, and some ferns we could not identify. Blooming also were wild oats (Vularia sessilifolia), We had a good view of the falls. Parts of the orange trail is along the brook and part up hill. With fewer trees along the trail and later in the day we were pretty hot by the time we were done.

Unfortunately, there was lots and lots of lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria).

The second trip, we started in the same place, but after a short time we went uphill from the brook. All the spring flowers were gone. We noticed the lesser celandine were gone too, not just the flowers but the leaves too. It was after a big rain storm. There was indication of flooding and the plants were probably washed downstream to spread the invasion.

In bloom, we found hairy penstemon (Penstemon hirsutus), and rattlesnakeweed (Hieracium venosum) shown in first two photos below left with its distinctive leaves, and partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) right photo below.

Rattlesnake Weed Flower - Hieracium venosum in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ Rattlesnake Weed distinctive leaves - Hieracium venosum in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ Partridgeberry Mitchella repens Thrum form in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ

More partridgeberry photos Pin & Thrum forms 


Plant list from NY-NJ-CT Botany Online:   NY-NJ-CT Botany website   


Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, Male, Clopteryx maculata, Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ Leaves of Round lobed Hepatica - Anemone americana in Washington Valley Park, Somerset NJ First photo on the left is a beautiful ebony jewelwing damselfly, male(Calopteryx maculata), ID'd by John Beetham.

Next is the Buttermilk Falls at the end of the reservoir.


Hope you will visit here and enjoy.

Hubert & Millie Ling

All photos by Hubert & Millie Ling 4/29 or 6/3 2015.