Surprising assemblage of plants (M4.2)
Where else but Salter Grove would you find the unlikely combination of American elm, Carolina rose, eastern white oak, scarlet oak, and Canadian serviceberry growing within yards of one another along a marsh? The asparagus probably got started as a defecated seed when a bird came to feed on the fruits of serviceberry or Carolina rose.
The only mature eastern white oak at Salter Grove is at this station. A juvenile located quite some distance away on Upland Trail probably sprouted from an acorn stored and forgotten by a squirrel. See how the lower branches extend outwards and are parallel to the ground. It's usually difficult to collect material from the crown of an oak tree, but this low branching habit allows a close look at twigs, buds, leaves, and acorns for identification. Be aware that oaks may not fruit every year.
The small grove of American elm was first noticed in spring of 2021 when they were flowering. It was an exciting find because mature trees are rare in New England after most individuals have been decimated by Dutch Elm Disease.
Carolina rose is known to inhabit a wide range of habitats but this must be one of the most challenging. The exposed sandy substrate and the nearby line of debris suggest that these slender stems are subject to occasional tidal inundation. The plants further south at about M5 are bushier probably because they are on slightly higher ground and are not subject to brackish water as frequently.
It shouldn't be surprising that asparagus is right at home on the marsh because it occurs naturally in the maritime habitats of Europe and western Asia. Knowing this, commercial growers add salt around cultivated asparagus beds to discourage weeds unable to tolerate salt. The patch nearest this station marker may have been heavily browsed by deer. You should be able to see a very well established patch near M4, about 30 feet north.