Marsh View Trail

Marsh View Trail guide

This property contains uplands, salt marsh, a hammock island and a paved walking trail that winds through the interior portion of the property and terminates in the vicinity of the mean high water mark of the salt flat. Public access is available to this serene natural location thanks to the Mount Pleasant Waterworks Commission.

#1   Maritime Forest

The maritime forest is adjacent to the Atlantic coastline.  It is a harsh environment influenced by winds, hurricanes, sea salt spray and sandy soils.  The habitat is dominated by live oak, loblolly pine, magnolia and laurel oak in the upper story.  The understory typically has Sabal palmetto, yaupon holly, dogwood, wax myrtle and red cedar.  All of these species can be seen on this trail.

#2   American Elm Trees – Ulmus Americana 

Once one of the most common trees in the Eastern United States, it has become increasingly rare due to the introduction of Dutch Elm Disease.  As these trees mature they will possibly be affected by this fungal disease, which has no true cure.  We hope their isolation on this property will be their protection.  You can identify this tree by its leaf – where the bottom edges don’t match (asymmetrical).

#3   Invasive Species

The understory is plagued by two invasive species which can crowd out and displace the native species.  Both were introduced as ornamental trees but have escaped and now pose a problem as they thrive in our habitat.   They are the Chinese Tallow tree (Sapiem sebiferum), which was introduced into the U.S. right here in Charleston in the 1700s, and the Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sineuse).

#4   Live Oak Trees – Quercus Virginiana

The southern live oak is the quintessential Southern tree.  It is a keystone species in this habitat, providing shelter and food for a myriad of other plants and wildlife.  It is a fast-growing but long-lived tree.  The live oaks on this property are over two hundred years old.  The live oak drops its leaves all at once in the spring and drops its acorns in the fall.  The tree has its leaves throughout the winter, making it seem “live” while other trees drop their leaves and look “dead”.

#5 Habitat “Edges”/ Transition

As the forest transitions into the salt marsh, there is a small unique habitat of scrubby trees and semi-salt tolerant plants.  This is the preferred habitat of our most flamboyant summer resident.  It is the painted bunting.  Look for the blue, red, green and yellow colored males sitting high in the trees as they call to the other male birds to mark their nesting territory.  The buntings are here from April-September, going south to Cuba for the winter.

#6   Tidal Salt Marsh 

The tidal salt marsh is nature’s “filter paper” and “sponge”.  The marsh protects the coastline from tidal surge, hurricane winds and damaging pollution.  Salt marsh occurs where there is no wave action, only the slow ebb and flow of the tidal waters.  The marsh is home to a myriad of birds, invertebrates, mollusks, mammals, fish, amphibians and insects.  It is one of the most productive habitats in the world.  Look for wading birds, hawks and fiddler crabs.

#7   Hammock Islands

As you look out into the salt marsh you see isolated islands of green.  These are hammock islands, an oasis of higher ground in a sea of Spartina grass.  Most hammock islands are densely vegetated and undisturbed by man.  They are used by migrating birds and insects.  The hammock islands adjacent to the Marsh View Trail are possibly part of an ancient dune line.

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