Patapsco State Park (McKeldin Area)

Memorial Day

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Michelle, Mark, Jeb and I took a mid-day hike through the McKeldin section of Patapsco State Park on Memorial Day.

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We parked at the intersection of Marriottsville and Henryton Roads and walked east (downstream) along the South Patapsco River floodplain horse trail, near the railroad tracks and Howard County boundary.

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We then walked the McKeldin Rapids trail and switchback trail that led to the confluence of the North Branch Patapsco River (Liberty Reservoir).

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The riverside trails included wonderful reaches of rapids, falls, pools and riffles, with occasional massive rock outcrops and palisades, exceeding expectations.

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This is a DNR “put and take” section of river, so I know trout occur in some of these pools.

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The South Branch Patapsco River includes broad sections of floodplain.  The overwhelming aspect dominant plant was Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea), mixed with Microstegium, mugwort and touches of wavyleaf basketgrass.  The trail includes pockets of wetlands with skunk cabbage, and the benches of slope were the most interesting.
The first flowering plant was Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), in order of photos taken.
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Bluets (Houstonia caerulea).
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Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontitum), not yet in bloom.
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Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis violacea).
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Rattlesnake Hawkweed (Hieracium venosum).
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Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium).
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Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus).
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Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora).  The stream valley smelled of a mix of lighter fluid, hot dogs and rose.
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Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum).
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Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus).
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Venus Looking Glass (Specularia perfoliata).
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Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana).  This is the feature plant of the McKeldin Area, as aggregates exceeding two-acres were observed!
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Spiderwort is a native perennial, observed as an occasional plant from Maine to Georgia.  The plant is named for its delicate spider-like filaments that surround the anthers of the flower.  The flower has three petals and can be purple, violet, rose or whitish.  The individual blossoms last for only a day or two, but new blossoms appear daily for about a two-week period in late May into early June.  Spiderwort can be found on shaded ledges of bluffs and open rocky woods, and is pollinated by bumblebees.
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Pointed Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium).
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Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense).  Do you see a maroon flower in the photo?  Hint:  They occur under the leaves, hugging the ground and turn-up like a pipe.
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Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis), an attractive non-native found a few times along the floodplain.
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Moonseed Vine (Menispermum canadense).
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Alumroot (Heuchera americana).  I observed several in rock outcrops, and at peak bloom, while looking for walking fern.
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American Bladdernut (Staphylla trifolia).
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Northern Water Snake.
We also saw large-leaved houstonia, common cinquefoil, false Solomon seal, rue anemone, mayapple, coltsfoot, bloodroot, naked flowered tick trefoil, violets, enchanters nightshade, sweet cicely, common hop, blackberry, star of Bethlehem, horsetail, chickweed and others.  Never saw that walking fern that I was looking for.
We all enjoyed the cooler of ice water back at the truck.
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