Advanced Naturalist Club Botanize in Nottingham Park

By: Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

This past Saturday, just before Hurricane Irene blew through, I led our Advanced Naturalist Club on a botany walk at Nottingham Park, Chester County, PA.  Janet Ebert, professional botanist, was our special guest expert who identified many rare and unusual plants. 

The Advanced Naturlist Club is made up of graduates of the Naturalist Certification Series which is offered at our Ashland Nature Center and Abbott’s Mill Nature Center.  Enjoy some highlights from our walk…

Janet Ebert, on the left, shows the group one of the unusual plants found at Nottingham Park. We kept her busy for the morning asking her what was what. Janet is very hard to stump, and knows just about everything growing there.

Nottingham Park, in the southwestern corner of Chester County, PA is a large serpentine barrens.  This kind of habitat is usually dry, rocky, and the soil is rather barren, and high in heavy metals.  It is the kind of place where most of the usual plants in our area have a tough time growning, and rare and unusual species thrive.

The pleatleaf or slender knotweed is a small plant that is rare in our area outside Serpentine Barrens.

The pace of the walk was slow, as is most walks with Janet.  This is a good thing, because we discovered many small plants that survive in the hot, dry, barren conditions of Nottingham.  The pleatleaf knotweed, above, was a good find growing among small grasses in the savannah-like habitat found here.

This small but beautiful member of the pea family is a type of tick trefoil.


Whorled milkweed is a small, delicate member of the milkweed family that grows in dry, rocky areas. I think if a monarch caterpillar tried to feed on this one, it would weigh it down to the ground.



This Great Horned Owl seemed tame, and looked like it might have an injured left wing, which drooped a little. We assumed it could fly, since it was perched in a tree.
St. Andrew's cross is rare in Pennsylvania, growing as a mat on dry soils.
It was not a good butterfly day, since it was cloudy and a little rainy, but we did find a Zabulon Skipper nectaring on a swamp thistle, which is a native thistle growing in Nottingham barrens.



1 thought on “Advanced Naturalist Club Botanize in Nottingham Park”

  1. Wow, the Great Horned Owl…..i so long to see an owl up front & in person, hopefully someday. How totally cool with the camoflauge thing going on. Great shot!

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