Seepage wetlands within Virginia's coastal plain support a variety of plants and natural communities now extremely limited in distribution and number. Seeps occur near heads of streams where a sloping ground surface intersects with an impervious soil layer. Plant communities associated with coastal plain seepage wetlands are strongly influenced by the low pH and nutrient content of groundwater, and light conditions.
Cherry Orchard Bog Natural Area Preserve features a Coastal Plain Seepage Bog community supporting an unusual assemblage of plants, including large Death-camas (Zigadenus glaberrimus), Bog-buttons (Lachnocaulon anceps), White Fringed Orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis), Cuthbert's Turtlehead (Chelone cuthbertii) and Red Milkweed (Asclepias rubra). This diverse wetland community would historically have been maintained by frequent fires that prevented long-term domination by woody plants. Even with the last century of fire exclusion, Cherry Orchard Bog persists due to a major powerline right-of-way running through the wetland. Right-of-way maintenance provided ample woody vegetation control which, along with a steady flow of acidic nutrient-poor groundwater, sustained the bog's shade-intolerant herbaceous flora in the absence of fire. Pre-settlement, this site would have experienced frequent fires that kept trees, shrubs and woody vines at bay.
DCR has managed the site with prescribed fire since 2000 to expand and maintain habitat for rare, fire-dependant plants. In 2014, DCR began longleaf pine restoration work at Cherry Orchard Bog preserve. To date, about 50 acres of former industrial loblolly pine plantations surrounding the seepage wetland 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 grown from seeds collected at DCR's South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve.
Part or all of the preserve may be periodically closed for resource protection or prescribed burning activities. Please call before visiting.