Thursday, August 6, 2009

Plymouth gentian found at Hawksnest!

Plymouth gentian is a showy purple flower on the State's list--a "Species of Special Concern."

It grows along the border of ponds, and is more likely to be found during years of low water. It doesn't compete well with the shrubs, so it requires occasional high water to prune back the shrubs. When there's no beach, the plant survives as rhizomes submerged in the shallow water, or as seeds. Then, when the water recedes, the gentian will bloom in July, August, or September.

The gentian was last seen during exceptionally low water in 1993, on Hawksnest Pond near the isthmus with Black Pond, and also on the Black Pond side. It may still be present, biding its time, plotting how to outwit the shrubs.

Finding the gentian again would help protect Hawksnest Pond and its shoreline, because managers are required to manage for the plant--and that means excluding threats like horses, ATVs, and pedestrians from the beach where the plant is found. We need to work now for protection of the plant, before low water levels return. That's when most abuse happens!

If you look for the gentian, be careful! Simply walking along the pond edge could trample it's rhizomes. The preferred way would be to wade in deeper water, swim, or take a boat. It would be best for "Friends" to pick a single person to watch for the plant, to avoid lots of people loving the last flower to death!
For a slide show on the gentian (be sure to click on "show info" in the show's menu):

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