The glaucous-leaved green-brier differs from the ten other green-briers native to Virginia in that its lower leaf surface is covered with a whitish film. It frequently grows as a small, vegetative plant on the shady forest floor. However, in a sunny spot it can become a robust, flowering and fruiting specimen like this one Bessie Marshall painted.
The Fossil Record
The presence of marine fossils in the Lee Park area is a clue that the land was once under the sea. If you explore the banks of Lieutenant Run, a small stream running along the northern edge of Lee Memorial Park, you can find evidence of the two best-exposed marine formations in the Petersburg area, the Eastover Formation (approximately 7.0 million years old) and the Yorktown Formation (approximately 3.5 million years old). Lieutenant Run has cut through rock and soil strata, exposing fossils from both formations. The Eastover Formation contains fossil evidence of microscopic diatoms (algae), about twenty different species of mollusks, large whales, and the huge shark Carcharocles megalodon. The Yorktown Formation contains at least one hundred fifty species of well-preserved mollusks and rare whales. By this time, the large shark was extinct.
In 1846 paleontologist Henry C. Lea published fossil engravings of prehistoric marine life in what is now Lee Park.
Both the Eastover and Yorktown Formations contain many marine genera and species that do not exist today. The fossils found throughout this area suggest that the area was covered by a shallow open bay and had a temperate climate. Throughout the fossil beds you can also find sparse evidence of subtropical species.
This fossil, found in Lee Park, is a vertebra from an ancient whale of the genus Balaenoptera, like the finback whale in this drawing.
Petersburg’s fossil deposits are well known as a place to find beautifully preserved specimens, especially along Lieutenant Run. Here, tens of thousands of fossils are exposed, some with their original color patterns and some still in the original life position. Several prehistoric creatures were first named from the fossils found along Lieutenant Run.