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Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) Source: Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) Source: Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

What Is In Bloom In June?

June 14, 2022


During the month of June in the Pine Barrens, you can find many blossoming flowers from shades of purple to yellow against the background of green pines and tan sugar sand. Orchids are in bloom, shorelines in the pines are lined with pickerelweed, prickly pears are revealing their blossoms, and northern fence lizards are laying in the warmth of the sun.

Prickly Pear, Opuntia humifusa taken by Rachel Grace

The Pine Barrens are home to the only eastern member of the cactus family known as the prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa. This cactus thrives in open, sunny areas of the pines that have been disturbed by external events, naturally or by humans. The stems are thick and have a flesh-like texture with small, barbed bristles, hence the common name prickly pear. When it comes time to bloom in June, the prickly pear displays a beautiful, bright yellow flower that quickly turns into a red edible fruit.

While walking or kayaking along the muddy shores of the Pines, you may be greeted by pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata. Pickerelweed, with its bold and vibrant violet flowers and arrow-shaped leaves, is a pleasant sight to see around mid-June. This aquatic plant is an emergent one, which means it has its leaves and flowers above water and parts of the stem below water. There is a belief that pickerel like to lay their eggs in the habitat of this plant, hence where the name pickerelweed comes from.

Northern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus hyacinthinus) taken by Monica Cahill

As you leave the muddy shoreline and make your way into the Pines, you may find a northern fence lizard, Sceloporus undulatus hyacinthinus, bathing on a log in the sunshine. These lizards tend to be shy but if you find them in action they will be searching for flies and other insects to feed on. The female lizards are gray while the male lizards are a shade of brown with narrow bands on their back. If you see blackish-blue coloring on the ribs or around the chest, then you are seeing a male northern fence lizard. These reptiles are usually four to seven inches in length and have small, pointed scales and long claws. Lizards can voluntarily lose their tail as a defense mechanism to distract the predator and give them time to escape. The tail of a northern fence lizard will regrow within several weeks if it falls off.

The Pine Barrens are truly home to a plethora of species. From cacti to aquatic plants to reptiles, you can rest assured that you will always be greeted by fascinating creatures if you take the time to tune into the environment around you. While you are out and about exploring all the flora and fauna in the pines, don’t forget to be aware of ticks!

10 responses to “What Is In Bloom In June?”

  1. John C. Kozimbo says:

    I’m writing to comment about the prickly pear cactus. Until a few years ago, all New Jersey prickly pears were considered to be Opuntia humifusa. However, O. humifusa has since been broken up into several different species. I helped document that we also have Opuntia cespitosa growing along the Delaware River in Hunterdon County.
    Any prickly pears with spines are one of the new species. If the flowers are yellow with orange-red centers, they are O. cespitosa. It is reported that there are also spiny cactus with pure yellow flowers in NJ. It anyone is aware of population of spiny prickly pears growing in the Pine Barrens, please let me know!

    • Rachel Grace says:

      Wow, that is so fascinating! Thank you for letting us know. We will keep our eyes peeled for them.

  2. Barbara Dawson says:

    This article is great. I hope the blog continues on at least a monthly basis and that you email it out whenever it’s written.

    • Rachel Grace says:

      Thank you! Great to hear that you enjoy these so far. We do plan on doing monthly blog posts!

  3. Monica Cahill says:

    Banner year for Rose Pogonias! Look for these pink orchids in fens, savannas and on the edges of bogs, lakes and rivers.

  4. Chris says:

    Gonna have to keep an eye out for those pickerelweeds.

  5. Mary Quirk says:

    I learned something new!! Wonderful article, easy to understand with very vivid plant descriptions 🥰

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