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Antioch Pines Natural Area Preserve
© DCR-DNH, Gary P. Fleming

Antioch Pines Natural Area Preserve

Isle of Wight DCR 1017 By Arrangement with Steward Latest News


Along the east side of the Blackwater River, just downstream from the village of Zuni, is one of Virginia's finest old growth loblolly pine and turkey oak woodlands. The pines are impressive in age and stature, with the oldest cohort originating at the end of the Civil War and some individuals reaching three feet in diameter and 100 feet tall. This Pine/Scrub Oak Sandhill community supports a number of plant species that are rare in Virginia including Plukenet's Flatsedge (Cyperus plukenetii), Sandy-woods Chaffhead (Carphephorus bellidifolius and Viperina (Zornia bracteata). Moist to wet swales between the dry sandhills are flanked by transition zones - ecotones - that are home to a great diversity of wildflowers. Among many, there can be found orchids, trilliums, bellworts and lilies. These herbaceous plants are components of a woodland community dependent on frequent fires.

Also located at Antioch Pines are a small number of remnant old longleaf pines that comprise among the last vestiges of the northern range extent of the historic Longleaf Pine Ecosystem. Plant material (scions) from these few mature longleaf are being used by the VA Department of Forestry in developing a grafted native Virginia longleaf seed orchard. Seed from this orchard will be used for future longleaf pine reforestation efforts in the Commonwealth.

To date, about 250 acres of young, former industrial loblolly pine plantations at Antioch Pines have been restored to young longleaf pine communities using a combination of tree removal, prescribed burning and planting with containerized, northern-range "native" longleaf pine seedlings produced from seeds collected at DCR's South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve.

Antioch Pines is contiguous with and mostly surrounds Old Dominion University's Blackwater Ecological Preserve, which is managed in partnership with DCR.

This preserve has no public access facilities.

Also, part or all of the preserve may be periodically closed for resource protection or prescribed burning activities. Please call before visiting.

Darren Loomis, Southeast Region Steward
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Natural Heritage
Suffolk, VA
(757) 925-2318.