January 27, 2020

Beach Plums, beach grass, poison ivy? Island Beach flora

What does moss feel like? Have you ever touched it? We all know the rhyme “leaves of three, let it be” to identify poison ivy. But did you know that poison ivy can also look like a thick, hairy rope? The nearly 400 native and invasive species that grow at Island Beach State Park will be explored during a free program for children and families taking place the next two weekends.

Join Samantha Kuntz, an intern with Save Barnegat Bay and a sophomore at Georgian Court University, at the Interpretive Center at Island Beach on Saturdays and Sundays (May 10, May 11, May 17, and 18) at 10:30 a.m. for a free family-friendly talk about the different species using the Emily deCamp Herbarium, a hands-on activity dissecting flowers, and a walk from the bay to the ocean to identify plant communities. See if you can spot the red cedar, bayberry, high bush blueberry, pitch pine, beach plum, American beach grass and Japanese sedge. The 45-minute program is perfect for children ages 5 and up and their families and is available to the first 20 children.

The program will also take place hourly from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 17 during Ocean Fun Day 2014, a free family event held at Ocean Bathing Area #1 that includes hands-on activities throughout the park’s facilities. Activities include eco tours and workshops and youth fishing clinics, as well as the program utilizing the deCamp Herbarium. For more information about Ocean Fun Days, visit www.njseagrant.org

What’s a herbarium? It is a collection of preserved plants which are annotated for scientific and public study in a filed taxonomic system. The first herbarium dates back to 1578 when a count in Italy established the national herbarium. Presently, there is a functional national herbarium in every nation in the world. In the United States, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. houses about 1.8 million mounted plant specimens from all over the world.

Kuntz, 26, a Toms River resident and biology/pre-med major who hopes to continue her education to become a dentist, said she will talk about grasses, shrubs, trees and plants that are specific to Island Beach.

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“I’ll be exploring plant evolution, starting with algae, then the mosses and ferns, to the pitch pine. All are considered angiosperms,” she said, rattling off the names of common angiosperms that can be found at Island Beach, including Poison Ivy, Seaside Goldenrod, Beach Plum, Red Cedar, Bayberry and High Bush Blueberry.

Kuntz said she will also show children how to dissect a flower and point out the petals, stamen, stigma, stems and leaves that make up a flower and lead a nature walk to find some of the native flora.

The herbarium and Janet’s Garden at Island Beach State Park originated through the support of the deCamp family and friends. It consists of over 400 native and introduced plants found on the barrier beach island. The individual specimens are mounted in glass or plastic-modified Riker mounts, which are presented in a humidity-controlled cabinet under a nine-color coded cross section showing the various plant communities at Island Beach.

Key identifying information is printed on the front of the mount together with the dried plant specimen. The back of the mount has pertinent scientific and general interest information. This is one of the few herbaria, which is open to the public and allows the individual plants to be handled by park visitors.

Want to learn more about Save Barnegat Bay and the Emily deCamp Herbarium? Visit www.savebarnegatbay.org/ and http://savebarnegatbay.org/herbarium/


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Beach Plums, beach grass, poison ivy? Island Beach flora

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