Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wolf Mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway with Karen Lawrence and Newcomb's Wildflower Guide

compiled by Kathy Stilwell with Jean Hunnicutt and Dan Rawlins  Photos by Karen Lawrence with contributions by Ned Kraft

After so many days of rain, we were especially fortunate to have splendid weather for our trip to Wolf Mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway led by the very knowledgeable Karen Lawrence with her trusty Newcomb’s Guidebook at her side and her ever present Nikon around her neck.  Having Dan Rawlins along to share his vast expertise was a major bonus as was the presence of Bob Gilbert, plantsman supreme!  A special thanks to Jean Hunnicutt for her superb skills of keeping track and noting what we encountered.
Photo by Jean Hunnicutt

Our five car caravan stopped shortly after we entered the parkway.  We used Newton’s keys to attempt to identify a number of plants along the roadside.  With some, we were successful; with others, not so much.  We learned any number of the intricate elements of describing flowers and stems and leaves and the way leaves grow and the way flowers grow.  We learned about radial and non radial growth patterns of flowers and how to classify flowers by the number of parts unless they are irregular or indistinguishable.  We learned about the plant type--does it have basal or alternate or opposite or whorled leaves or no leaves?  And we learned about leaf types.  Are they entire or toothed or lobed or divided.   We learned that when in doubt, divided trumps toothed!  I’m telling you, the number of minute variations was breathtaking and mind-boggling.  Add to that, the amazing number of varieties and you find yourself in a wildflower dreamland.  

Our next stop was the Rock Face at the Wolf Mountain Overlook which is an incredibly unique plant environment--one I would love to duplicate at my home!  We ended the excursion on just the right note with a superb lunch at Pisgah Inn.  We were reminded once again about how privileged we are to live in such close proximity to such “gracious plenty”.  (That’s a term I heard just recently and I love it.) 

Following is the list of species we encountered with some photos from the day.  Enjoy!

End of entry ramp BRP
Heal-all                                                Prunella vulgaris
Spikenard                                            Aralia racemosa
Short-styled Snakeroot                       Sanicula canadensis
Black Snakeroot/ Black Cohosh          Actaea racemosa
Common Greenbrier                            Smilax rotundifolia
Flowering Spurge                               Euphorbia corollata
Heart-leaved Skullcap                         Scutellaria ovata
Thimbleweed                                       Anemone virginiana

Riding along the Parkway
Turk’s-cap Lily                                     Lilium superbum
Phlox (Downyand/or Smooth)              Phlox pilosa
Crimson Bee Balm/ Oswego Tea        Monarda didyma

Rock Face Across from Wolf Mt Overlook
Bush Honeysuckle                              Diervilla lonicera
Michaux’s Saxifrage                           Saxifraga Michauxii
Long-leaved Houstonia                       Houstonia longifolia
Thyme-leaved Bluets                          Houstonia serpyllifolia
Mountain St. John’s Wort                    Hypericum graveolens
Appalachian St. John’s Wort               Hypericum buckleyi
(other St John’s Worts)
Grass-of-Parnassus                           Parnassia asarifolia
False Dandelion                                   Krigia Montana
Sundew                                              Drosera rotundifolia

False Asphodel                                   Tofieldia glutinosa
Water Hemlock                                    Cicuta bulbifera
Green-headed Coneflower                 Rudbeckia laciniata
Small Green Wood Orchid                   Habenaria clavellata
Joe-Pye Weed                                    Eupatorium --several species

A couple of species of mountain mints and some basil-balm. We also saw both pale and spotted jewelweed, native clematis (in and around the greenbrier), and some immature turtleheads.

Buckleyi St. John's Wort

Green Wood Orchis--by Karen Lawrence

Downy Skullcap  (Scutellaria incana) by KL

Mini-Community on rock wall by Karen Lawrence

Sticky Asphodel (Tofieldia gultinosa)
Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia asarifolia Ventenat)by JH
Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata Linnaeus) by JH
Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana L.) by JH
Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla sessilifolia Buckley) by JH

Sticky Asphodel Group by Karen Lawrence
Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)

Karen and I decided to retrace our steps the Friday following our trip.  We were in search of the Larkspur that was said to be blooming near the entry ramp.  Here are some photos from that excursion.
Tall Bellflower (Campanula americana) KL

Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata) KL

Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana) KL

Tall Larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum) KL

Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) by Karen Lawrence

St. John's Wort (one of many varieties) by Karen Lawrence

Pale Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) By Karen Lawrence
by Ned Kraft

By Ned Kraft

by Ned Kraft

By Ned Kraft