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White Bells in the Pine Barrens

In pine barren forests on Long Island in New York, May is the time of year for an explosion of growth in the spring woodlands. The leaves of red maples, scarlet oaks, black gums and various heaths have fully extended to absorb the sun’s energizing rays.

As I walk down a path through freshwater wetlands, I see shoulder high shrubs with small white bell-like blossoms. A bumblebee flies from one flower to another to sip nectar and in doing so pollen rubs off on its legs. It unknowingly disperses this pollen to other flowers that helps in pollination. Those pollinated blossoms will grow into a plump blueberries.

There are many species of blueberries. It is the highbush blueberry that thrives in wetland environments. The trail leads me to an upland area where the soil is sandy and acidic. White and scarlet oaks along with pitch pine tower over heaths of varying heights. There are white bell-like blossoms on short woody plants that grow six to twelve inches. Upon closer examination I discover this is the low bush blueberry. Bees are also busy pollinating the blueberry flowers. Occasionally, I come across an intermediate sized blueberry plant. It has off-white blossoms with a tinge of pink.

By late June and early July, the blueberries will be ripe and I look forward to eating them fresh off the bushes.

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