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Cranberry Glades

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Unique Plants Found in Cranberry Glades

By WHITNEY BURDETTE ∙ wburdette@statejournal.com

Tucked away in the Monongahela National Forest lies several species of plants not typically found as far south as West Virginia. 

But visitors to the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area can see not only cranberries but several types of orchids, species of moss, two types of carnivorous plants and trees, shrubs and herbs. Diana Stull, director of the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, said the Glades is a popular destination for the public because it's so accessible.

"It's a half-mile boardwalk," she said. "We do have repairs from time to time, but generally you can walk it regardless physical problems that limit mobility. It's accessible. You can use a wheelchair or walker, although at times it's a bit slick."

Stull said most people come to see the unique variety of plants they just can't see anywhere else.

"They're native to the glades, but because of the makeup of the glades, you don't find them just anywhere," she said. "Like cranberries — you don't find them a whole lot of places."

Another type of plant that can be found throughout the glades is the orchid. Stull said a couple of species — the rose pegonia and pink-grass — are the most numerous. But visitors have to stop by at just the right time in order to see them.

"There are a lot of orchids there," Stull said. "Some places you'll find a lot of orchids, but for the most part they're pretty rare and they don't come up necessarily every year. They only come up when the conditions are right."

People who stop by in June or July are more likely to see the orchids, but Stull said they only come up for a three- or four-week period.

But unique plants aren't the only things to call the glades home. Stull said wildlife, such as deer and bear, are often spotted in the area. 

"It varies from year to year, but usually there are several bears in the area," Stull said. "There are some years you always see a bear and some years you may see one."

But this season, campers and walkers might want to be careful because several bears have been spotted in the area, which is also popular for birdwatchers.

"There are a lot of warblers," Stull said. "People come to just look for warblers because there are a lot of species of warbler. A lot of them you don't find in this area very often, so its good habitat for a lot of these species."

People who want to visit the area but don't want to walk through the glades also have access to hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. 

"The Cranberry Glades is close to an area commonly referred to the Cranberry Backcountry," Stull said. "You cannot ride horses or bicycles on the boardwalk itself but the backcountry is good for horseback riding."