Philadelphia Botanical Club

Field Trips and Workshops

Philadelphia Botanical Club field trips offer a way to become familiar with our region's plants and habitats, along with good places to see them. The trips are run by volunteers who know the site, and everyone on the trip can participate in spotting and identifying the plants. Unless noted otherwise, all trips are free and open to the public.

Please feel free to provide feedback or comments that may enhance our offerings to our field trip coordinator, Janet Novak, or 215-534-6700.

Field trip leaders can download instructions for trip reports.

Field Trips and Coronavirus Safety

Because of the pandemic, participants in PBC field trips are required to wear a mask if they are not fully vaccinated. In addition, some trips will limit the number of participants and require pre-registration (first come, first served). Registrants who change their mind are politely asked to notify the trip leader, so that someone else can be offered their slot.

2022 SCHEDULE

The 2022 field trip schedule is under development. Below are the trips scheduled so far.

March 26 (Saturday) at 10 AM: Lichens of Spruce Run Reservoir, Hunterdon County, NJ
One of the few extensive outcrops of carbonate rock (dolomitic limestone) in central New Jersey can be found at the Spruce Run Reservoir Recreation Area, where the humidity from the reservoir yields an abundance of lichens. We will look at some of the unique species found on limestone (like Placynthium nigrum) as well as a variety of lichens on trees and other surfaces. Bring a hand lens. The area is flat and we will stick close to parking areas. If time permits we may cross the road to look at silicate rocks at the Union Forge Nature Preserve. Trip will be about four hours. Bring lunch.
Registration: Registration is required. Participation is limited to 15 people. Register with the trip leader (contact info below).
Directions will be provided upon registration.
Leader: Dennis Waters, or 609-924-5922

April 9 (Saturday) at 10 AM: Cheerful Spring Wildflowers, Hunterdon County, NJ
This joint trip with the Native Plant Society of NJ goes to a site near Bloomsbury. Lift up your sprits by visiting the largest concentration of hepaticas in pink, white, and blue that the leader has ever seen. There should also be bloodroots and perhaps a glimpse of some rare plants just starting to bloom. A large variety of natives are found in this relatively unspoiled area. The hike is easy to moderate with two small creek crossings. Bring water and a lunch if you expect to take off on your own after this 2-hour hike. Masks will be required if infection rates are still high.
Registration: Registration required, with a limit of 10 people. Register with the trip leader (contact information is below). Provide your cell phone number in case of cancellation due to rain.
Directions will be provided upon registration.
Leader: Hubert Ling or 908 231-9115

April 24 (Sunday) at 10 AM: Mill Hill Preservation Area, Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County, PA
Mill Hill, a 237-acre preserve located in Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County, PA, boasts the highest point in Montgomery County, impressive diabase boulders, and a portion of the pristine Hosensack Creek. It has a rich understory of shrubs and flowers and a variety of northern hardwoods. A survey in 2006 produced 65 birds, and 16 species of reptiles and amphibians, and an impressive 355 plant species. Among them are plants not often seen this close to Philadelphia: Trillium grandiflorum (large-flowered trillium), Mitella diphylla (miterwort), and Triosteum aurantiacum (orange-fruited horse gentian). Other plants we can expect to see include Obolaria virginica (pennywort), Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot), Anemonoides quinquefolia (wood anemone), Thalictrum thalictroides (rue anemone), Stellaria pubera (star chickweed), Pedicularis canadensis (wood betony), and Floerkea proserpinacoides (false mermaidweed). At the end, participants will have the option of exploring a rocky powerline cut, where we will see Asplenium rhizophyllum (walking fern) and, if we're lucky, a few other unusual species.
Directions: Meet in the preserve's main parking area on Ziegler Road. Coordinates: 40.42438, -75.52227. Coming north on 29 from Rt 663 go through East Greenville and the Walmart Supercenter. There is a light at the intersection of Kraussdale Rd and Rt 29. From that light, continue on Rt 29 for about 1/2 mile and bear right on Ziegler Road. Ziegler Road will cross Mill Hill Road at a stop sign. Cross over Mill Hill Road and in less than 500 feet the parking lot is on the right.
Leaders: Link Davis, or 610-316-0036 and Janet Novak, or 215-534-6700 (cell)

April 29 to May 2: City Nature Challenge, Philadelphia area
The Philadelphia Botanical Club is a partner in this 4-day bioblitz to document biodiversity in Philadelphia and adjacent counties (Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Gloucester, Camden, and Burlington Counties). The goal is to observe and identify wild organisms, whether they are plants, animals, fungi, lichens, microorganisms. You can document organisms using the citizen-scientist program iNaturalist. See the Philadelphia City Nature Challenge page for basic information.

May 5 (Thursday), 11 AM to 3 PM: Little Cove, Franklin County, PA
Joint trip with the Muhlenberg Botanical Club. Little Cove is located on limestone soils in the Potomac watershed in the scenic southwestern-most corner of Franklin County, and has different wildflowers than we usually see. The varied topography and substrates of this area support a rich vernal flora including Trillium sessile, Delphinium tricorne, Jeffersonia diphylla, Chaerophyllum procumbens, Hydrophyllum macrophyllum, Phacelia dubia, Opuntia humifusa, Primula (Dodecatheon) meadia, Ptelea trifoliata, and many other species. Driving time from Philadelphia is 3 hours each way, but well worth the effort because of the beauty of the wildflower display and because of the expertise of our leader, a retired Shippensburg University professor who has studied this area. The walks are not long, but the slopes onto the bluff are a bit steep. Attendees who are not sure-footed should bring a walking stick. Also, take the usual precautions for ticks. There is an outhouse on the property, but you may want to stop in Mercersburg for a pit stop.
Registration: Let the leader know by May 1 if you plan to come (contact information below), as he would like to know the number of people/cars coming.
Directions Please car pool, as parking is extremely scarce at the site. We will probably arrange a location to park extra cars during the walk. Meet at 11 am at the junction of PA 456 and Red Rock Road. Heading west on the PA turnpike, take exit # 189 (toward PA75/Willow Hill/Fort Loudon), Metal Twsp., and then follow PA 75S to Mercersburg, where there is a McDonalds and other places for a pit stop. Branch off to the northwest on PA 16 until it intersects with PA 456S (Little Cove Rd.). Turn left (south) and continue on PA 456 to the junction of Red Rock Road, just north of the Maryland border (456 branches off to the left where Red Rock Road comes in). That will be the meeting point.
Leader: Larry Klotz,

May 22 (Sunday) at 9:00 AM: Ferns and Late Spring Wildflowers in Northeastern Lancaster County and Southwestern Berks County, Pennsylvania, PA
We will visit at least two different areas about 5 miles apart. First is a Pennsylvania State Game Lands in a woodland with circum-neutral diabase soils and moss & lichen covered boulders for interesting and ferns late spring wildflowers, including Aplectrum hymale (puttyroot orchid) and possibly one or two other orchids. We will see plants of Melanthium virginicum (Virginia bunchflower) in the woods, but they rarely bloom due to shade from the trees. The leader last saw one bloom here in 2010. Ferns include Adiantum pedatum, Polypodium virginianum, Deparia acrostichoides (silvery spleenwort), several Dryopteris, and more. The large forest trees include Acer saccharum (sugar maple), Carya ovata (shagbark hickory), and Quercus alba (white oak). There is also a wet meadow by the parking area with sedges and the tiny flowers of Campanula aparpinoides (marsh bellflower). Part of the purpose for this trip is to get a more complete plant list for this whole area to provide to the PA Game Commission to help them with their management plan for the area and help protect it. Then we will drive and make a quick stop along a roadside population of Dryopteris celsa (log fern) and also some D. celsa x cristata (log fern x crested woodfern). Then we'll continue to the second area about 5 miles away. At a local park of drier upland oak forest we'll walk the easy trails to a large patch of Isotria verticillata (large whorled pogonia). The Isotria patch has a hundred or more stems that all appear to be one self-sterile clone. As we walk we'll keep an eye out for Cypripedium acaule (pink lady slippers) under blooming Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel). The trip will involve rough off-trail walking among boulders and logs with some muddy spots. It will last until mid-afternoon, although people will be able to leave earlier as we won't be too far from our parking areas. If there is still time and interest by participants there are some other nearby places we can drive to for more botanizing afterwards.
Registration: Registration with the trip leader is required; limited to about 10 people.
Directions: We will meet in the Morgantown area. Directions will be provided upon registration.
Leader: Mike Slater, or 610-698-4031 (cell) or 610-775-3757 (landline)

Cancelled: June 6-10 (Monday through Friday): Joint Field Meeting (BotSoc)
Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada

The Joint Field Meeting has been cancelled because of the pandemic. It is tentatively rescheduled for June 2024, after a 2023 Joint Field Meeting in North Carolina.

July 16 (Saturday) at 10:15 AM: Ferns of Northwest Philadelphia
This trip mostly repeats our 2019 trip in northwest Philadelphia, though it adds one or two more fern species. It is a joint trip with the Delaware Valley Fern & Wildflower Society. Northwest Philadelphia has many old stone walls, and at least eight fern species have colonized these walls. We'll start our fern tour at the Mount Airy train station, which has a thriving population of Pellaea glabella (smooth cliffbrake). The fern has been growing at this site in at least since the 1930s, when it was reported by Edgar Wherry. We then move to Chestnut Hill, where a short walk will yield Pellaea atropurpurea (purple-stem cliffbrake), Woodsia obtusa (blunt-lobed Woodsia), Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort), Asplenium trichomanes (maidenhair spleenwort), Phegopteris decursive-pinnata (Japanese beech fern), and Cystopteris tennesseensis (Tennessee bladder fern). This last fern is endangered in Pennsylvania, but quite abundant in northwest Philadelphia. After the walk, everyone is invited to a tour of Janet's garden, which contains many unusual plants. Those who wish to can stay for a picnic lunch.
Directions: Meet at the Mount Airy SEPTA station, 149 East Gowen Avenue in Philadelphia. The station is on the Chestnut Hill East line, and a train will arrive at 10:04 AM. For a return trip by train, note that our ending point is within a 10-minute walk of the Wyndmoor Station on the Chestnut Hill East line and the St. Martins Station on the Chestnut Hill West line.
Leader: Janet Novak, or 215-534-6700 (cell)

July 29 (Friday) at 9 AM: Wells Mills County Park, Ocean County, NJ
At 910 acres, Wells Mills is the biggest park in Ocean County. We will explore an area near Wells Mills Lake as well as classic Pine Barrens habitats including upland pine and oak forest as well as a cedar swamp. Plants we may be able to observe include Pinus rigida, Chamaecyparis thyoides, Xerophyllum asphodeloides, Nymphaea odorata, Sabatia difformis, Drosera rotundifolia, Polygala cruciata, Utricularia striata, Hypericum virginicum, Woodwardia areolata, and Woodwardia virginica. For people who have visited Wells Mills before this will also be an opportunity to see how the park is recovering from a tornado that caused significant damage in July of 2021. Trip is limited due to the sensitivity of some areas we will explore. Please register via email with the trip leader if you'd like to join. There will likely be an abundance of ticks and biting flies due to the season so please be prepared along with plenty of water, boots, bug spray, sunscreen, and any necessary snacks or food.
Registration: Registration is required. Participation is limited to 15 people. Register with the trip leader via email contact below.
Directions will be provided upon registration.
Leader: David Taylor, or 215-534-6700 (cell)

July 30 (Saturday), 10 AM to 3 PM: Tannersville Cranberry Bog, Tannersville, PA
The Tannersville Cranberry Bog Preserve is a 1,000 plus acre preserve containing a 150-acre wetland and a relict boreal bog. The Nature Conservancy manages the preserve with the volunteer assistance of a local Stewardship Committee and the Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center. The bog was once a huge glacial lake. Since the ice receded 10,000-15,000 years ago, approximately 60 feet of peat has accumulated on the floor of what was once the 715-acre lake. Today, the bog stands out in contrast to the surrounding forests. It is a world of sphagnum peat moss hosting beautiful plants like calla lilies, orchids, gold thread and the carnivorous sundew and pitcher plants, with smatterings of shrubs like bog laurel, Labrador tea, leatherleaf, sheep laurel, bog rosemary and swamp azalea. the bog also provides habitat for many mammals including bears, otters, bobcats, beavers, porcupines, minks and snowshoe hares. We will be on a boardwalk that allows easy travel through the bog. If time permits, we will spend time visiting parts of the preserve that were subject to a prescribed burn during the last two seasons and document the plants we encounter in these areas. Plan to spend 5 hours outdoors and come prepared with lunch, boots, insect repellant, sunscreen and rain gear.
Directions: The address is 552 Cherry Lane Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301. From Route 611, at the light at the Tannersville Inn turn onto Cherry Lane Road. The parking lot is 1.9 miles on your right from Route 611.
Leader: Timothy Grover,

September 24 (Saturday) at 10:30 AM: Petty's Island Preserve, Pennsauken NJ
Petty's Island in the Delaware River has been preserved by a Conservation Easement given by CITCO to the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust. At 500 acres in size and in a wonderful location close to Penn's Landing and Center City Philadelphia, the restoration of this jewel verges on the miraculous. It was almost lost to a resort development. Read about the Island here: https://www.nj.gov/dep/njnlt/pettysisland.htm While it is not yet open to public access, we will visit the island with appropriate persons from the NJNL Trust and the relevant NJ state authorized personnel. A small bridge connects the island to NJ, so swimming or boating will not be required! This will be a joint field trip with the Delaware Valley Fern and Wildflower Society (DVFWS). Group size is limited to 20 participants and ALL need to pre-register with either Janet (PBC) or David Lauer (DVFWS) or 215-357-2646. Each registrant will need to sign a waiver prior to arriving for the walk, hence the added need to pre-register.
Directions will be provided upon registration.
Leader: David Lauer, or 215-357-2646


dwarf pitch pines (Pinus rigida)
Pygmy pine trees near Warren Grove, New Jersey. These pitch pines are less than 6' tall, thanks to dry, infertile soil and frequent fires. The botanical club visited the site on a field trip in late April, 2017. Photo © 2017 Terry Schmidt.