Winter in the Pocosin

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Winter is the most comfortable time of the year to explore pocosins in the Croatan National Forest and elsewhere. And there’s more to see than you might think, including Venus flytraps, colorful spaghnum moss, butterworts (Pinguicula sp.), longleaf pines along the adjoining sand ridges, and lots of wide open views across the open ground.

There’s a great deal of plant diversity within our pocosins, and there’s also diversity in pocosin types. Classifications include but are not limited to Low Pocosins, with Gallberry-Fetterbush and Titi Subtypes; and High Pocosins, with Evergreen and Deciduous Subtypes. The more you attempt to learn on this subject, the more complex it becomes!

Thankfully, pocosins in general aren’t very welcoming to non-native invasive plants. That’s not surprising, given the typical conditions of saturated, extremely acid and nutrient poor soils. It’s certainly refreshing to visit a plant community where Chinese privet, callery pear, English ivy, elaeagnus, Japanese honeysuckle and Japanese stiltgrass are not running wild.

Other places to visit pocosin plant communities include the Holly Shelter Game Land, Angola Bay Game Land, Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Bladen Lakes State Forest, Jones Lake State Park, and Singletary Lake State Park.    

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Venus flytraps, colorful spaghnum moss, and butterworts are just a small sample of what you can find in the pocosin winter landscape (picture taken January 12, 2020).

Image of butterworts

A pair of butterworts, with the slightly rolled-up leaf margins, can be seen in the center of this closer view.