Brown Bridge Trail

Patuxent River at Rocky Gorge (WSSC), Brown Bridge Boat Launch


Michelle and I took an early morning walk along a section of trail where we have historically observed showy orchid and other great spring ephemeral wildflowers.  The canopy is closing fast and the blush of fresh green carpets the forest floor.  We actually saw a few largemouth bass in the water of this stream at the confluence of the turbid reservoir backwater, from the flooding rains of earlier in the week.  The bass were congregating in the mouth of the sediment-free water.


Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) greets us at several locations along the reservoir trail.  This flower is on its way out and more flowers were spent than not (as the flowers were going to seed, forming a seed head called the cranesbill, which is also another common name for thew plant).


Whammy!  Not only did we find sixteen different Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) along about a mile section of trail, we found the one shown above, with four plants all together, making for quite a spectacular display.


The Latin word spectabilis means “to make a spectacle of yourself or spectacular,” how appropriate for this showy species.


I made this photo my new screen saver on my computer.

The showy orchis is an occasional to uncommon native orchid that occurs throughout the northeast and has a pink to purple hood and white-lip.  The flower stem can grow from 4 to 8-inches, arising from two basal leaves.


I’ve seen Shining Clubmoss (Huperzia lucidula) on five other occasions, once on the coastal plain and four times in the Piedmont.  Once a few years back, I found a very large aggregate near BWI Airport that formed a carpet, and was quite a show.

The Latin word lucidula means lucid or shining, in reference to the bright green color, even in winter.  It grows to six-inches tall from rhizome roots and occurs throughout much of the northeast, down to the Carolina’s.  The plant used to be called Lycopodium, but some splitter-botanist changed its name to Huperzia.

The plant can be found along streams, ravines and rich woodland slopes.

Nice morning walk.