Bear Swamp West
Downe Township, Cumberland Co., N.J.

From Garden State Environews (; Jacqueline L. Urgo, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 20, 2002

A thicket in Cumberland County may contain the Northeast's oldest trees, some five centuries old and more.  At the edge of an old sand-mining operation, some of the trees grow five stories tall.  Some of the tupelos may be 700 years old.

Samples were taken during a field trip in September 2002 to the 1,400 acre Bear Swamp. On the trip was Bruce Kershner, a University of Buffalo forest ecologist and a nationally recognized expert on ancient forests.

The Natural Lands Trust owns about 350 acres of the swamp. The rest is owned by Better Minerals & Aggregates, a sand-mining company that wants to sell or donate the property to the New Jersey Green Acres program in return for a limited-term lease on a piece of state-owned property nearby where it could conduct sand-mining operations.

July 26, 97, Philadelphia Botanical Club trip. With Stevens Heckscher (leader).
Sandy, disturbed areas on U.S. Silica land.
Shore of abandoned borrow pit.
Swamp forest sites.

Nomenclature follows Gleason & Cronquist (1991). Common names from various sources.
var. ... = unspecified variety. (Vars. listed in Gleason & Cronquist do not match Kartesz's interpretation.)
F Flowering specimen(s) found. [C.] Cultivated.
Fr Fruiting specimen(s) found. [E.] Escaped from cultivation.
* = Not yet learned, but pointed out by Stevens Heckscher.

Acer rubrum Red Maple common
Ilex opaca var. opaca American Holly common
Juniperus virginiana var. ... Red-cedar 1
Liquidambar styraciflua Sweet-gum common
Liriodendron tulipifera [C.] Tulip-tree some
Magnolia virginiana Sweet-bay few
Nyssa sylvatica var. sylvatica Black-gum common
Fr Paulownia tomentosa [E.] Empress-tree 1
Pinus rigida Pitch Pine common
Pinus virginiana Virginia Pine some

F Clethra alnifolia Sweet Pepperbush abundant
F Decodon verticillatus Swamp-loosestrife, Water-willow some
Hypericum gentianoides Orange-grass 2
Ilex glabra Inkberry, Bitter Gallberry 1
Lindera benzoin var. benzoin Spice-bush 2
Lyonia mariana Staggerbush some
Myrica cerifera Wax-myrtle 2
Fr Myrica pensylvanica Bayberry some
F Rhododendron viscosum Swamp Azalea few
Rubus sp. Blackberry few
Vaccinium macrocarpon Cranberry some

Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia Creeper few
Smilax rotundifolia Catbrier common
Toxicodendron radicans var. radicans Poison-ivy some
Vitis aestivalis var. aestivalis Summer Grape few

F Asclepias tuberosa var. tuberosa Butterfly-weed few, roadside
F Bartonia virginica Bartonia some
F Centaurea maculosa Spotted Knapweed few, roadside
F Chimaphila maculata Spotted Wintergreen 1
Cuscuta sp. Dodder 1 patch
Diodia teres Buttonweed few
F Drosera intermedia Spatulate-leaved Sundew common
Erechtites hieraciifolia Fireweed, Pilewort some
F Erigeron annuus Annual Fleabane 1
F Eriocaulon aquaticum Pipewort 1
Eupatorium hyssopifolium var. hyssopifolium Thoroughwort some
near F Eupatorium pilosum Thoroughwort few
F Hypericum canadense St. John's-wort some
Hypericum gentianoides Orange-grass 2
F Hypericum mutilum St. John's-wort 2
F Hypochoeris radicata Cat's-ear 1
F Lobelia nuttallii Nuttall's Lobelia some
Nymphaea odorata Water-lily few
Oxalis stricta Wood-sorrel 1
Phytolacca americana Pokeweed few
F Plantago aristata Plantain few, roadside
F Polygala nuttallii Nuttall's Milkwort some
F Rhexia virginica Meadow-beauty some
Triadenum virginicum Marsh St. John's-wort abundant
F Utricularia purpurea Bladderwort 1
Viola lanceolata ssp. lanceolata Lance-leaved Violet some
F Xyris difformis var. difformis Yellow-eyed-grass some

Fr Juncus effusus var. conglomeratus Soft Rush few
Fr Juncus effusus var. solutus Soft Rush common

Fr Carex crinita var. crinita Sedge 1
Carex sp. (laxiflora?) Sedge some
Eleocharis microcarpa Spike-rush abundant
F,near Fr Eleocharis tuberculosa Spike-rush 1 patch
Fr Rhynchospora capitellata Beak-rush common
near F * Rhynchospora macrostachya Horned-rush some
near F Scirpus cyperinus Wool-grass some
Fr Scirpus pungens var. ... Common Three-square common

Andropogon virginicus var. abbreviatus Bushy Broom-sedge some
Andropogon virginicus var. virginicus Broom-sedge some
near F Glyceria obtusa Coastal Mannagrass 2
F Microstegium vimineum Japanese Stilt Grass common
near F Panicum virgatum Switch-grass some
Phragmites australis Common Reed few sites

Ferns & fern allies
Lycopodium appressa Appressed Bog Club-moss abundant
Lycopodium obscurum Flat-branched Tree Club-moss 1
Asplenium platyneuron Ebony Spleenwort 1 site
Dennstaedtia punctilobula Hay-scented Fern some
Dryopteris carthusiana Spinulose Wood Fern 4 small patches
Osmunda cinnamomea Cinnamon Fern some
Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis Royal Fern few
Thelypteris noveboracensis New York Fern few sites
Thelypteris simulata Massachusetts Fern 1 patch (+ 2 young plants?)
Woodwardia areolata Netted Chain Fern common

Field Trip Report, July 26, 1997. 

The group hiked into the heart of Bear Swamp West, which still has part of its never been cut ancient forest (about 100 acres).   Bear Swamp East has about 200 acres of similar ancient forest.  In Bear Swamp West sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) reaches 1.5 feet in diameter. Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) parasitizes only the tupelo trees in the area.  Total attendance was 5.   The trip leader was Stevens Heckscher.

Source: Bartonia: Journal of the Philadelphia Botanical Club. June 2002. P. 155.