Sun loving plants • (M10.8)
The thick prostrate main stem of this common buttonbush suggests that it has endured regular tidal inundation in this same spot for a long time. It may also get a good dose of freshwater since it is located at the base of a slope. At the peak of its flowering in mid-July, dozens and dozens of flower heads the size of ping-pong balls obscure the foliage, and bumblebees risk head-on collisions as they dart between what look like white pincushions.
A small grove of buttonbush grows at the southern end of the vernal pond. Despite the much greater number of stems, both flower and fruit production is lower. What would cause this difference in productivity?
The plant on the marsh gets more sun than the plants near the pond.
The narrow-leaved cat-tail is known to occur as monospecific stands throughout New England, especially in brackish habitats. However, its tall leaves provide vertical support for various herbaceous plants such as climbing nightshade, hedge false bindweed, jewelweed, and small-spiked false nettle. Shrubby plants such as the black elderberry, and purple loosetrife may also get some amount of protection from strong winds.
Several stems of narrow-leaved cat-tail stood on the southwestern rim of the vernal pond in 2016 but by 2020, they were edged out by Japanese knotweed. The patch of cat-tails here abuts a patch of very tall knotweed. Will the same thing happen here?
Compare the view of Rock Island now with the view in 1890, shown in Culture, when there were four permanent buildings. The regrowth of vegetation on the rocky ground since then has been limited by the exposure to extreme temperatures and strong winds. However, now that human activity has been greatly reduced many aquatic birds can be observed in the nearby water.