This series will hopefully give us a heads up on great photo subjects, beginning with …
by Bob Grytten
Wildflowers bloom throughout the year beginning with the earliest Skunk Cabbage
Symplocarpus foetidus from Feb-Mar. While the Blue Ridge Parkway is usually closed this early in the year, if you can get on it, our records indicate they will be blooming near milepost # 176.1, 185.8, and 217.0. You may find this earliest of bloomers partially snow covered. Wikipedia file photo
Another location to try is the Nature Center in Highlands. In back of the main meeting building is a wonderful mass of wildflower plantings and a boardwalk area to access those close to the ponds. Highlands Nature Center is part of the Highlands Biological Station, an inter-institutional research facility of the University of North Carolina focusing on the rich biodiversity of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
Employment Opportunity Two Assistant Naturalists will be needed to help with daily operations of the Highlands Nature Center. Primary duties include working with the public to interpret the natural history of the southern Appalachians and related Nature Center exhibits, answering questions about local natural areas and recreational opportunities, actively developing and teaching several environmentally based educational programs for both children and adults, and serving as co counselor for a series of Nature Day Camps for children ages 4 to 14. Staff will also assist with the implementation of weekly special evening programs for the public. More… http://cnr.ncsu.edu/prtm/internships/documents/HighlandsNatureCenter.pdf
Expect The Trout Lily Erythronium americanum, to be blooming in March – April , depending upon the elevation. We’ve located wonderful communities of them at Max Patch where the Appalachian Trail Crosses on the NC/TN boarder. Take 1-40 and exit at Harmon Den and enter the Pisgah Natl Forest and drive east until the road ends, make a left, then follow the road makers. Park at Max Patch, climb the open meadow and at the top keep your eyes open for the trees and shade, their favorite habitat.
You can also find them at lower elevations, but they have earlier blooms. One of our favorite is the Corneille Bryan Nature Garden, Stuart Circle just off the Rose Walk at Lake Junaluska, NC.
The Oconee Bell, Shortia galadifolia, is a rare flower of the southern Appalachians found only in a few locations in the mountains of North Carolina. This photograph was made at the Corneille Bryan Nature Garden near Waynesville, NC.
In its native range in the western Piedmont, at the base of the mountains, the Shortia is barely clinging on, though extensive patches exist in other areas.
It is famed for being a long lost plant. For fifty years after Andre Michaux discovered it in 1788, the specimen, which had fruits but no flowers, languished in a Paris herbarium. Asa Gray discovered the herbarium sheet and named the plant, but was not able to find it despite much effort. Another five decades passed before any botanist laid eyes on a live plant again! More… http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/838.pdf
Please do not try to transplant native wildflowers to your backyards or fields. Less than 5% survive. As an example a trout Lily requires at lest 6″ of soil under the plant as the microbes in the soil are needed for the plant to grow. It is better to buy from a reliable nursery that has propagated plants that are in the same climate as yours.