Sunday, March 26, 2017

What’s in this Pocket?

Carolina spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)
Last week, on March 17th, I returned to the Pocket at Pigeon Mountain for the second time this year. This visit was 4 weeks after my first visit on February 19th (documented in this post).  This visit was with a group of girlfriends and had been planned for some time. Based on some of the early blooms elsewhere, I expected to find lots of new blooms at the Pocket. This post describes what we found.

In particular, this area of the Pocket includes the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail, an example of a mesic forest. As explained in TheNatural Communities of Georgia, a mesic forest has deep, rich soils. This location is the featured place (page 171) and is described as a trail that “winds through a narrow valley with steep cliffs on either side … formed from Fort Payne Chert interbedded with limestone, the talus of which forms a rich valley floor.” The floral composition is incredibly diverse and always makes me think of how rich in beautiful native plants Georgia must have been when Europeans first arrived.

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Trailing trillium (Trillium decumbens)

The plants that I found 4 weeks ago were still blooming: harbinger of spring (Erigenia bulbosa), sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. acuta or Anemone acutiloba), and star chickweed (Stellaria pubera) were still there in enough abundance to get good pictures. Also still blooming was trailing trillium (Trillium decumbens) and the early Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), just starting before, had plenty of company now. 

Erythronium americanum - not sunny enough
for the blooms to open that day
Newly blooming on this trip were some colorful newcomers like Carolina spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana), the last few blooms of American troutlily (Erythronium americanum), spotted geranium (Geranium maculatum), large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora), Robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus), rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), longspur violet (Viola rostrata), Canadian violet (Viola canadensis), downy yellow violet (Viola pubescens), sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum), woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), Dutchmen’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), bishop’s cap (Mitella diphylla), pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) and more.

Cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)
Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Dutchmen's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Plants with signs of blooms opening within a week included woodland stonecrop (Sedum ternatum), celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), fernleaf phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida), eastern ed columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), bent white trillium (Trillium flexipes), and foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia).

Farther off in the bloom cycle are wild hyacinth (Camassia scilloides), dwarf crested iris (Iris cristata), buckeyes (Aesculus spp.), crinkleleaf toothwort (Cardamine diphylla), wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and Solomon’s plume (Maianthemum racemosum), false garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve) and many things whose foliage hadn’t even made an appearance! There will be something pretty to see until mid to late April. I think maybe a third trip might be in order.

Erigeron pulchellus
Star chickweed (Stellaria pubera)
Bishop's cap (Mitella diphylla)
Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

By the way, here is a good link for this place with a nice long list of what usually blooms when:

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