Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cedar Glade notes #3 with photos from Dan Pittillo

Sullivant's or Shaggy Maned-moss (Macrocoma sulivantii) NC state listed as Significantly Rare-Disjunct. In the state it occurs in 8 mountain states. It is a bright green, cylindrical moss with the sporophytes fitted with golden shaggy hairs, giving it a maned appearance. 

The late Dr. Lewis Anderson, internationally known Duke bryologist and Howard Crum, authors of the two-volume Mosses of Eastern North America, climbed with me one dry day to the top of Cedar Cliff in Jackson County and pointed out the rare Macrocoma sulvantii growing on limbs of old red cedar trees. As usual he collected a few samples for his frequent exicotti (exchange specimens) he shared with the bryologist community far and wide. He suggested we might find it on old cedar trees and that has been the case but I've not yet seen it in any additional counties listed by the Natural Heritage Program.

The attached macro digital photos illustrate the structure of a pressed specimen (no. 1) and pointing to the sporophyte with a dissecting needle (no. 2).



Visit to Smith Gilbert Gardens, May 21, 2013 by Julie Ross. Photos by Fred Kinnard

Smith Gilbert Gardens is 13 acres of peace. Located in busy Kennesaw, its heart beats with love and gentleness. We have gone to many hidden places to find wild specimens, but SGG calls out to us. In one place, you can visit an historic home, outdoor sculpture, vegetable beds, and the gardens. And it is the gardens, of course, that are so magnificent.
For those of you who may not know, the house and gardens are a work of love by our own Dr. Bob Gilbert and his late partner Richard Smith. In 30+ years, they changed a bedraggled site that was falling apart to one brimming with life and beauty.
We had the insight of a long-time guide, Jo-Evelyn Morris, while we took our tour. Her stories and comments made the tour even more enlightening. This garden has a birthplace, and Jo-Evelyn took us there. At the edge of the birthplace are five Tibetan  prayer flags inscribed with messages that are meant to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to those in their vicinity. The colors represent the elements of earth, water, fire, cloud and sky. As the soft cloth tatters in the breeze, printed prayers float into the world.
As we moved about the gardens, we saw the perennial garden and Knowlton Meadow. We also saw the Japanese Maple Grove, with its 30 varieties of the medium-sized tree, and the Camellia Garden. They all are full of ideas and plants for the home gardener to try. One idea that was popular with us was using wrought-iron stakes to hold up heavy peony heads.
One of the most esthetic sites is the Mulberry Bowl. There is a gorgeous mulberry tree there that you could look at for hours. It has the marks of a long and challenging life.  The mulberry is considered a trash tree, but this example shows how wrong that notion is. As if to confirm this, there is a sculpture titled “Respite,” which is situated across from the tree and appears to be staring at it. The site’s mulberry is a very old tree, but here’s hoping it endures for many more years.
The Rock Garden is not to be missed, either. It is modeled after a garden in Scotland, but transformed into a garden that would flourish in our tropical climate. There are low-growing plants, sculpture, a tea house, and stately koi that swim in the ponds and waterfall.
The Rose Garden is part of the Cedar Field and offers a rest after walking through the gardens. The roses are spectacular, with fragrance and beauty that people have loved for centuries. There are dozens of varieties of roses in this garden and right now the roses are at their peak. It is a gorgeous sight to see.
The Bonsai Garden comes at the end of the tour, and it is worth the wait. This Bonsai Garden is the only one of its kind displayed publicly in the state of Georgia. Each tree tells a story, but you have to listen closely to hear it.
In all, a day spent touring SGG is a day well spent. You will finish the day filled with a sense of beauty and free of stress.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cedar Glade Part 2 continued from Dan Pittillo

Cedar Cliff in Jackson County was surveyed by New York lichenologist Richard Harris and bryologist Bill Buck. They found there were over 120 species of lichens, especially crustose types, accounting for more species seen anywhere in the region for a similar sized area. 

Bob Dellinger, former student at Western Carolina University and assistant to Dan Pittillo for field surveys in the 1990's, first recognized the community uniqueness for these sites. With the NC Natural Heritage Program personnel, they decided to call these mainly southwest facing outcrops Montane Red Cedar-Woodland, differentiating them from Granitic Dome Outcrops frequent in the eastern Blue Ridge and Cedar Glades of lower elevations on the Valley and Ridge Province west of the Blue Ridge Province.  
Dan Pittillo

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cedar Glade Hike: Awesome

I have to confess, when I saw "Cedar Glade" as the title of the SAPS program, I didn't have a clue what it meant.  I had no inkling what a unique treat we were in for.  Yes, it was a more challenging hike than anticipated; really more of a bushwhack adventure, but when Mother Nature goes to the trouble of creating something so unusual, it stands to reason that one has to work a bit to get there!  
Since the ratio of expert to novice was decidedly tipped in favor of the experts, here are some of their comments.    

"Cedar Cliff, often referred to as Montane Red Cedar-Hardwood Woodland is one of the more unique rock outcrop communities in the Southern Appalachians. While the Granite Dome Communities are also unique for the region, Cedar Cliff is different in that the type of plants present not only contain some of the usual outcrop species, such as pines, hickories, oaks, grasses, etc. that occur on acidic granitic outcrops but additional more base-loving plants like shooting star, nine-bark, and more abundant red cedar and white ash (see Schafley 2012). When asked what the source of the more basic soils that occur here, Ed Schwartzman stated geologists had not agreed on how the composition of these mafic outcrops relates to the types of minerals making up the rocks from which they form. Ed and Brent pointed out that these more basic soils support abundance of poison ivy and indeed we spent some effort skirting large patches of them. Often these communities support populations of little blue stem, Michaux saxifrage, and a couple of the plants I noted were the dwarf rhizomatous coastal-plain serviceberry, far from its main population distribution, and southern spring beauty, not as common as our Carolina spring beauty."J. Dan Pittillo

Schafley, Michael P. 2012. Available on internet at 

"I’ve always enjoyed the tenacity of those cedars hanging on in that bare and thin environment.   They cling to those cliffs where very few other tree species can.  They take on interesting growth patterns in that harsh world, stunted and even bonsai in appearance as a result.  I also like being in a unique plant community that is so hard to get to –" Brent Martin

"I thoroughly enjoyed the trip with Brent and Ed. It was very interesting to explore the cedar glade which was complete with seeps and some rare species. We got a close look at Sullivan's golden-mane moss as we held onto the branches on which it grew to help us up the steep mountainside. We carefully traversed the wet areas of rock that were adorned with Michaux's saxifrage. American hop hornbeam grew in the forest surrounding the glade. Ed taught us many plants common to such rocky areas including Beadle's mountainmint and shining wedgegrass. Weathered and stunted Eastern red cedars lined the mid-elevation outcrop and were interspersed with Biltmore ash, fringe tree, and fragrant sumac. With Dan Pitillo and Patricia Kyritsi Howell with us we were able to identify and learn about the medicinal uses of many of the plants we saw. We searched for divided-leaf ragwort, a Southern Appalachian endemic, and learned how to distinguish it from the common Small's ragwort. Lunch was enjoyed in the company of hairy-lip fern, a chestnut-sided warbler, and serene views of the surrounding mountains. Ed guided those who were willing up a steep slope from there to see the rare cliff stonecrop. I was delighted to see this tiny plant and to be with such a great group of people!"
-Carrie Radcliffe

"It was great to see the Packera millifolium, which is rare. The more common Packera is used for the female reproductive system. The Rhus aromatica was cool, though just budding. It has a lot of uses.
Was smoked by the Cherokee (red leaves in the fall) and the root bark was also used as an astringent."
Patricia Kyritsi Howell

"The glade itself is of interest as it a rare natural community. The two most significant other features are the sedum glaucophyllum and the sullivants golden mane moss (macrocoma sullivantii)."
Ed Schwartzman
sedum glaucophyllum--rare cliff stonecrop
Unfortunately, the only shot I got of the Sullivant's golden mane moss was too blurry to even bother including.  However, Dr. Pittillo is going to provide us with an image when he returns from his travels so stay tuned!!
American Columbo (Frasera caroliniensis Walter)

Pigeon Wheat Moss

Divided-Leaf Ragwort

Michaux's Saxifrage

Hairy-Lip Fern

Rock Shag Lichen
Resurrection Fern

Compiled by Kathy Stilwell

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Our trip to Balsam Mountain Preserve on May 4, 2013 by Karen Lawrence

Eleven participants braved the ominous conditions and enjoyed learning about the history of the preserve and the purpose.  The nature center is full of information about this area with artifacts, a tree bark learning experience, live animals for demonstration and education including a Bald Eagle, a Kestrel, an alligator and various snakes.    Michael Skinner was full of information to share with us.  While listening to Michael we were treated with great views of several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Chipping Sparrows and a Brown-headed Nuthatch,  After visiting the center he led us on a walk along Sugarloaf Creek, which was moderate terrain that followed the creek with log bridges and a gradual decline in elevation .  Many wildflowers were in bloom in this lush environment.  Some we saw were:  Bishop's Cap; Mitella diphylla, Foam Flower; Tiarella cordifolia, Large-flowered Bellwort; Uvularia grandiflora, Large-flowered Trillium; Trillium grandiflorum, White-erect Trillium; Trillium erectum forma albiflorum, and Purple Wakerobin; Trillium erectum var. erectum, Wood Anemone; Anemone lancifolia,
Wild Geranium; Geanium maculatum; Robin's Plantain; Erigeron pulchellus, Yellow Mandarin; Disporum lanuginosum, Common Blue Violet; Viola papilionacea, Solomon Seal; Polgonatum biflorum, False Solomon's Seal; Smilacina racemosa,
Rue Anemone; Thalictrum Thalictroides, Jack-in-the-pulpit  Arisaema triphyllum, Toothwort; Dentaria diphylla, Doll's-eyes; Actaea pachypoda, Showy Orchis; Galearis spectabilis, Umbrella Leaf; Diphylleia cymosa, Blue Cohosh; Caulophyllum thalictroides, Wild Ginger; Asarum canadense, May Apple; Podophyllum peltatum, and Southern Nodding Trillium; Trillium fugelii.

Following the hike Michael drove us to the restaurant where they had relocated some species and we were able to see the Goldenseal; Hydrastis canadensis.  

Following are some images from our adventure:

Columbine in the parking lot

Blue Cohosh

Umbrella Leaf


Showy Orchis

May-apple Bloom


Wild Geranium

Southern Nodding Trillium

On Sugarland Creek