The 2018 Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage hosted by the Georgia Botanical Society was a nice romp through the counties of Upson, Meriwether, and Talbot during the first week of May. The area is considered to be within the Southern Outer Piedmont area (45b) and our sites were largely on or near the Pine Mountain ridge (45h). The map picture below, sourced from The Natural Communities of Georgia book (my favorite resource for understanding the different communities in Georgia), illustrates the area where we were. My first field trip was to Big Lazer Creek WMA.
Wildlife Management Areas are state-owned, DNR-managed properties that are open for many recreational activities; for the 7,200-acre Big Lazer Creek WMA, these include: hunting, fishing, geocaching, boating/canoeing, camping, hiking, and wildlife watching provided you have the proper licenses to enter (hunting, fishing, or lands pass) and follow any rules posted by season.
|That shoals spiderlily is just a little out of reach|
|From The Natural Communities of Georgia|
We started our hike near Potato Creek. As we waited for everyone to arrive, we explored the roadside, pointing out good native plants as well as pesky weeds. The sunny side of the road had a beautiful population of false indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa) that was just starting to bloom. The bees were loving it. Once inside the wooded portion, we found blooming partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) and plenty of familiar plants that enjoy good moisture, like silverbell (Halesia sp.). We were looking for something really special, however, and after about 30 minutes, we found it: Eastern fringed catchfly (Silene polypetala or Silene catesbaei). Although this species is propagated by several nurseries, it is rare in the wild because of habitat destruction and listed as G2/S2 endangered (both in the state and at the federal level).
|Amorpha fruticosa, wild indigo bush|
|Silene catesbaei, fringed catchfly|
The population we found was happily blooming in a sunny opening in the woodland canopy. Several of us left after that and traveled further into the WMA to a recommended viewing area for the shoals spiderlily (Hymenocallis coronaria) along the Flint River. We were advised that the lilies were not quite blooming yet but expected to see beautiful views of the river regardless.
Our first attempt to find the recommended area was incorrect, but we enjoyed the spot we found anyway and it had beautiful views of the shoals. We saw lots of beautiful and blooming mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), and partridgeberry (Mitchella repens). On our way back to the car, we found a blooming dutchman’s pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa) complete with last year’s seed pod and this year’s caterpillar!
We left there and found the right path. Although the lilies were not yet blooming in mass, we found plenty of interesting plants to admire. I was excited to find, for the third time ever, a population of wild oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). This population is even closer to where Bartram originally found it in 1775. We found more of what we found at the earlier site plus reticulated clematis (Clematis reticulata), alumroot (Heuchera americana) growing on rocks, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), mouse-eared coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata), even blooming poison ivy!
|Who needs a cultivar? Heuchera americana in the sun|