serpentine barren

This past weekend I visited a serpentine barren only 13.8 miles from home at the Willisbrook Preserve managed and protected by the Natural Lands Trust organization.  I’ve only been to a few serpentine barrens on the west coast of North America, but it always amazes me the flora that grows on these soils in comparison with nearby plant communities.

From Wikipedia, “Serpentine barrens are a unique ecosystem found in parts of the United States in small but widely-distributed areas of the Appalachians and the Coast Ranges of California, Oregon and Washington. The barrens occur on outcrops of altered ultramafic ophiolites.  They are named for minerals of the serpentine group, resulting in serpentine soils, with unusually high concentrations of iron, chromium, nickel and cobalt. Serpentine barrens often consist of grassland or savannas in areas where the climate would normally lead to the growth of forests.

In the case of this particular serpentine barren in Pennsylvania, there would be a hardwood forest of maples, hickory, beech, and ash if not for the limiting soil factors as evidenced by the nearby woods.  Instead, lots of pines, grasses and a few oaks seem to dominate the landscape here.

My graduated ND filter was not enough for this scene and I had to make some adjustments in Photoshop.  I failed miserably with blending two exposures, so this is one exposure adjusted the best I currently know how… guess it’s time for some software learning work!


2 thoughts on “serpentine barren

    • Thanks Liz! I had a great time even though I was eaten alive by mosquitoes! It could be a little more contrasty to bring out the magnificent sky… something I’ll have to work on in the capture-digital darkroom balance.

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