At the corner of Sweet Gum Lane and the road that leads to the BGE powerline Right of Way, there is a small grove of mature pitch pine. One or two of them are in the running to be state champions. From what I have been able to gather, there was a small village near this site. As late as 1926, several buildings and at least one church were located nearby according to a USGS map (USGS 1926). For convenience, I call this area Old Village Corner.
Since there are some large mature pitch pine trees here, I began to wonder what type of plant community this could be. After researching on the internet, it looks like this area could be a variant of the Pine Barrens Pine – Oak Woodland (USNVC: CEGL006329). (It is also called the Pinus rigida – Quercus coccinea – Quercus falcata / (Quercus marilandica) / Gaylussacia frondosa Woodland.) In addition to the above oaks, Quercus phellos and Quercus prinus are significant trees. Some of the area seems to be degraded somewhat perhaps due to human intervention and the encroachment of invasive plants. The area to the north seems to be in fairly good condition.
What is interesting is the white sandy soil in the area.
Even further to the north, the plant community transitions into another type that does not contain pitch pine. There is a good amount ericaceous undergrowth at this location.
The refuge has also had some prescribed burns here.
Simmons, Rod. 2013. Heath Diversity in Maryland: Distribution and Representative Natural Community Types. Maryland Native Plant Society
Teague, J., L. Sneddon, R. Simmons, J. Parrish, M. Tice, and M. Strong. 2006. Upper Anacostia Watershed Plant Communities of Conservation Significance. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia.
United States Geological Survey. 1926. Laurel , Maryland Quadrangle Map
ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS (Taken at same location in November 2014)