Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

Enjoying native plants is not just about using them in the garden for me.  It’s good to go out and see them in the places where they grow naturally, to take note of the communities in which they live, and to enjoy the beautiful arrangements that nature has created with them.  Last weekend the Georgia Botanical Society’s 42nd annual Wildflower Pilgrimage was in Clayton, GA, and I had a chance to go and enjoy some time in the woods.

Tradescantia subaspera - at home in the woods

Rabun County is one of the counties that borders North Carolina so we were in the mountains there.   Field trips included tours of waterfalls, rich mountain coves, creeks, gaps, ridges and all the neat places associated with mountainous areas.  But while each of them was lush with indigenous plants, it was disappointing to see how invasive plants have crept into even these places.  The worst one in general was multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora).  On roadsides it would cover huge areas, smothering native shrubs and small trees, shading out native perennials like Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and ferns that grew in abundance where the rose was not.  Inside the woods, small populations of the rose were forming in sunnier areas, poised to take over should a tree fall and the canopy open up enough for it to become the thug it wanted to be.

Enough doom and gloom – let me show you some of the special things we found.

Clintonia umbellulata - Clinton's lily

Geranium maculatum - was blooming heavily

Asclepias quadrifolia - fourleaf milkweed in the woods
Black raspberry was in abundance - Rubus occidentalis

Mountain laurel was in full bloom - Kalmia latifolia

Oxalis grandis - Look at the maroon edges

Polygonatum biflorum

Trillium vaseyi - the last of the trilliums
Pipevine - Aristolochia macrophylla

Umbrella leaf grew in a wet area of a rich cove - Diphylleia cymosa
I don’t always take the time to enjoy a trip just for looking. But whenever I do, I always wonder why I don’t do it more often.

By the way, if you’ve never read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, I highly recommend it. It is an amusing tale of one man’s determination to walk the Appalachian Trail and the adventures he has along the way.


  1. Wonderful finds! Especially like your oxalis shot. And I second your opinion on Bill Bryson's book. Glad you got out in it!

  2. Lovely collection of plants you found..& yes, it is frustrating to see so much multiflora rose & etc.. Glad you focused on the beauty still to be found!

  3. The Clintonia looks so exotic, very pretty. I'd never heard of four-leaf milkweed before, it looks swell. Looks like a fun trip!