Newbie here- Magnolia bog question

beth11(z7 southern MD)December 10, 2004

Hi All,

I usually hang out on the veggie/tomatoes forum, but I'm glad I found you all. I have a couple of wooded acres on my property next to the house. When I first moved in, I had plans on paths and planting, but got sidetracked. What got me interested again was an article in the local paper about "magnolia bogs". An acidic boggy area caused by seeping groundwater. Features sweet bay magnolia trees. Apparently it is a local feature in this area. I have a stream that runs thru the woods. When I first moved in, I tried to track the source but was dissapointed to find it started in a big old muddy area. I now believe that it is a seep. We have gravel/clay soil and the ideal conditions for a magnolia bog (and wild magnolia trees!). What intrigued me is the potential wildflowers that may be growing in my woods. I can't wait til spring. Long story short, has anyone heard or have experience with this type of bog and what I should look for?



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lycopus(z5 NY)

Have you tested the pH of your seepage? Since you describe your soil type as gravel/clay, I would expect the groundwater might be somewhat alkaline. It might very well be acidic though.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2004 at 1:58AM
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beth11(z7 southern MD)

If it ever stops raining, I will. I suspect it is acidic, but I'll check. I did find striped wintergreen plants in the woods- didn't know what those little cool plants were until I came here!


    Bookmark   December 11, 2004 at 11:21AM
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beth11(z7 southern MD)

OK, I took a water sample and tested it- yes, acidic. PH either 5.5 or 6.2 (two different types of test strips) and very soft. Surprisingly clear, too.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 8:11AM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

Sounds like you have the potential for a unique natural area there. I'd keep an eye on it for a year and take note of what is there. One thing worth noting is that the pH isn't very low but it might be sufficient. Here is a list of plants characteristic of a magnolia bog I found at

Alnus serrulata
Amelanchier canadensis
Aronia arbutifolia
Carex albolutescens crinita
Carex debilis
Carex folliculata
Carex intumescens
Carex leptalea (S3; may be downlisted)
Carex lurida
Carex seorsa (S3; may be downlisted)
Carex stricta
Carex styloflexa (S3)
Chelone glabra
Chionanthus virginicus
Cypripedium acaule (colony occurring in wet, sphagnous seep)
Dioscorea villosa
Eleocharis tortilis (S2)
Guylussacia frondosa
Glyceria striata
Gratiola virginiana
Ilex laevigata
Ilex verticillata
Isotria verticillata (characteristic of seep edges)
Jim- acuminatus
Juncus canadensis
Juncus coriaceus (S3)
Juncus subcaudatus
Leersia virginica
Leucothoe racemosa
Lilium superbum
Lycopodium obscurum (characteristic of seep edges)
Lyonia ligustrina
Magnolia virginiana
Maianthemum canadense
Medeola virginiana (characteristic of seep edges)
Nyssa sylvatica
Orontium aquaticum
Osmunda cinnamomea
Osmunda regalis
Oxypolis rigidior
Platanthera clavellata
Polygonum sagittatum
Rhododendron viscosum
Rhus vernix
Rhynchospora capitellata
Rhynchospora gracilenta (S3)
Rosa palustris
Scirpus polyphyllus
Smilax glauca
Smilax psuedochina (currently S1 E, new proposed status to be S2)
Smilax rotundifolia
Smilax walteri (S3)
Shagnum sp.
Symplocarpus foetidus
Thelypteris noveboracensis (characteristic of seep edges)
Uvularia sessilifolia (characteristic of seep edges)
Vaccinium atrococcum
Vaccinium corymbosum
Viburnum nudum
Viola primulifolia
Wisteria frutescens
Woodwardia areolata
Woodwardia virginica

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 12:42PM
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I guess that you are not too far from the development which recently had arson problems. Some members of MD Native Plant Society have been surveying magnolia bogs for years mostly near the Mattawoman. Definitely cinnamon fern (some ancient), pink lady's slipper, and swamp pink can be found there. MNPS will probably lead field trips to Araby Bog in the Spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: Araby Bog Link

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 1:42PM
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beth11(z7 southern MD)

Thanks all. Boy, that is quite a list of plants! Sam, yes I'm in Charles County, but not real close to Araby (closer to Zekiah swamp). I had never heard about it before the fires (they did arrest a group of guys for that stupidness). I didn't realize magnolias were not common in this area- I've got lots! I can't wait til spring. I hope to get a good pair of rubber boots for xmas so I can go explore.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2004 at 10:00AM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

It is worth mentioning that the arrest was of an individual who was a security gaurd at the development. The magnolia bog made the news because some environmental groups had opposed the development. The Sierra Club had written a memo saying "The project will destroy a forest adjacent to state-preserved wildlands and severely degrade one of Maryland's largest magnolia bogs." The story made national news when the fires were initially blamed on "ecoterrorists", something that turned out to be completely unfounded.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2004 at 2:11PM
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An excellent resource for the kind of info you need is the Peterson's field guide to eastern forests. It pictures and describes numerous types of native forests, listing the plant and animal communities that make up each type.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 6:27PM
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beth11(z7 southern MD)

Hi All,

I've been poking around the woodland and have identified at least a dozen of the plants/trees listed by lycopus (above) including Lycopodium (see separate thread on the club moss). I need to decipher the rest of the latin names to see what else I have! It is really a cool little area. Common names only- I can say that I have fringe trees, serviceberry, persimmon, a grove of Paw Paw's with a good crop of fruit, mockernut hickory, native dogwoods, beech (and beech nuts!), sweet bay magnolia, sumac, black locust, pin oak, white oak, sweet gum, tulip poplar, red maple (some big enough to tap for syrup one day), pin cherry, sycamore, sweet gum, striped wintergreen, sourbush (?), holly, and hemlock. And that is just what I have identified. I hope to see some cool plants this spring. I've see skunk cabbage in the past. I got myself a pair of muck boots to slosh around in, I'll let you know what I found.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 8:10PM
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