by Linda Jo Conn
Driving past the roadside park on Hwy 79 between Milano and Gause on my way to Sugarloaf Mountain Bridge, I told myself that one of these days I was going to stop and investigate the place. So, on the way home, I stopped and looked around.
It is a typical roadside park. Surrounded on three sides by a chain link fence supporting several species of vines, it has a circular drive, the usual brick and cement tables and benches, and some large cedar trees.
Later, when using Google Maps to enter the GPS location for my observations into the iNaturalist.org website, I discovered that this small roadside park actually has a name: Cedar Park. Not surprising. Cedar trees are the dominant trees.
Although the area is closely mown, there were a few flowers to observe. I saw my first Bird’s-eye Speedwell (Veronica persica) and Field Madder (Sherardia arvensis) blossoms of the season. There were the usual roadside park plants of Straggler Daisies (Calyptocarpus vialis), Crow Poison (Nothoscordum bivalve) and Green Poinsettia (Euphorbia dentata).
Climbing the chain link fence were common vining plants: Mustang Grapes (Vitis mustangensis), Carolina Snailseed (Cocculus carolinus), and Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).
The most memorable plant of the visit stayed with me a while. The park must have been covered with grass burrs (Cenchrus sp.). You may call them sandburs or stickers. Not noticeable in the short vegetation while I was walking about, they showed up as I was about to get into my truck. There must have been hundreds of them stuck to my jeans and to the tops and soles of my tennis shoes! It took a while to remove them.
Cedar Park is a shady, convenient place to stop on the highway and was visited by several travelers while I was there. Fortunately none had children or pets wanting to romp on the grounds. That would have been a memorable stop for them also. Ouch!