Monday, May 5, 2014

The Wildflower Walk on Wasilik Poplar Trail

The Wasilik Poplar Trail is only .7 miles which doesn't take long if you're hiking. However, when you're "botanizing" it's a different story and a different time schedule altogether.  Especially when there is such a smorgasbord of beauties to observe and study and enjoy.  The day was beautiful to look at but a bit on the chilly side when we started out.  However, it wasn't long before we were warmed up and engrossed in the subjects along the trail under the expert tutelage of Dr. Kathy Mathews.  We were also delighted that Jack Johnston surprised us with his presence and expertise as an additional bonus.  Dr. Kathy provided us with a list of woody and herbaceous plants we could encounter as we made our way along this rich cove forest and we saw nearly everything on the list.  
After a delicious two plus hours along the trail, we arrived at the magnificent remains of the mighty Wasilik Poplar where we lunched on a large flat rock and luxuriated in a most splendid setting. 

Karen Lawrence's observations:
Rich cove forest, lush growth and lots of trilliums blooming.
Learned many new plants and sampled a few tasty ones.
Found female and male Early Meadow Rues blooming.
Yellow Mandarin and Spotted Mandarins and Large-flowered Bellworts.
Saw Trillium erectum with the red and the white variety next to each other.
Learned more about tree species, especially Magnolias since Jack joined us on this hike.
Umbrella-leaf in bloom and lush next to the lovely flowing stream.
Enjoyed having lunch below the Wasilik Poplar and thinking about all the animals still using this old tree even though it has died.

Jean Hunnicutt's comments:
It was a perfect day.  Beautiful weather; masses of wildflowers, good company (including the surprise of Jack Johnston) and the spectacular (though dead) Wasilik Poplar.
It was a real treat to be with Kathy Mathews again.  Her knowledge of wildflowers (blooming or not), sedges, trees and ferns is impressive and she made the day fun - and a real learning experience.
And from Karen Sirmans:
We thought the outing was wonderful. Dr. Kathy was knowledgeable, personable, enthusiastic, and eager to answer questions or consult the wildflower bible. And as much as we missed seeing some of the SAPS regulars, being in a small group meant that we could all hear our leader, as well as chat with one another. We enjoyed the beauty of the trail, the glories of the native plants, and some good company.

Thanks to Karen Lawrence for the following photos!

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
Canada Violet (Viola canadensis)

Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum)

Gooseberry (Ribes cynosbati)

Bellwort (uvularia grandiflora)

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Spotted Mandarin  (Prosartes maculata)

Striped Maple Bloom (Acer pensylvanicum)

Vasey's Trillium

Umbrella Leaf Bloom  (Diphylleia cymosa)

Umbrella Leaf

Vasey's Trillium

Wasilik Poplar

 Large Waterleaf  (Hydrophyllum macrophyllum)

Thanks again to Karen for contributing these amazing photos. 
And some additional pictures

1 comment:

  1. Wasilik Poplar was alive until the last trip I made there a few years ago. It had, when still alive, a 9-foot butt swell that tapered to about 6 feet diameter above. I wondered if maybe it had a rotted center but if so, that tree is holding up longer than I imagined. I'm wondering if the district ranger will fear it's a hazard and do what was done in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: dynamite it down or, better, close it off to visitors. One of those large limbs fell in Kilmer and injured a lady some years ago. It laid on the ground and looked like a 2-ft diameter tree trunk.

    No one mentioned seeing yellowwood, Cladrastis kentukea just below the Poplar. I collected a couple of small live plants while working there and have them planted here in my yard, one near a nursery-bought TN plant. The NC trees always leaf out and bloom after the TN plant, having adapted to the higher elevation of that site comparatively (in a simple word, different ecotonal species). They will be blooming this month and there are a few collections in WCUH I made over the years not only from this site but several others in the southern Blue Ridge Province.

    Beautiful natural area!--Dan