Monday, March 31, 2008

Walking with the BotSoccers

Saturday I joined a Georgia Botanical Society field trip at the half-way point. I missed the morning trip to the Nature Conservancy's Black Bluff Preserve where the 40 or so BotSoccers examined that beautiful north slope biome for early spring wildflowers. The Dutchman's Breeches were exuberant. I stopped by for this shot on my way home.

Update, April 6: Richard Ware sent the plant identifications that label the pictures below. Thanks, Richard!

Dutchman's Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria

Wild Blue Phlox - Phlox divaricata

When I caught up with the group they were gathering under the big shelter at the Lock and Dam Park south of Rome, breaking out the coolers, and having lunch -- interrupted occasionally by a question from someone wandering the surrounding lawn and asking about some diminutive plant huddled under and between the grasses.

It took a little determination to pull the curious group from the lawn toward the trail. Along the way they stopped to identify stubborn little green things grasping for soil and water in crevices of the parking lot or ...

Sadie Price's violet - Viola priceana

The first part of the walk was through some large trees such as Shumard oaks, Tulip trees, Mockernut hickories...

Mockernut Hickory - Carya tomentosa

...between lumps of crushed stone on the graveled path.

and maples. This old tree had fallen...

and provided welcome fresh bark to the beavers

Toadshade Trillium - Trillium cuneatum

We climbed past the ancient gravel pit and the metal overlook. I got to talk with Charles Seabrook...

... the South Carolina low country native who has been the Atlanta Constitution's nature writer for a decade or more. Interesting fellow. He talked of having telephone operators asking his nationality when he dropped a dime in a pay phone as a homesick underclassman at the University of South Carolina to try to call his home on a coastal island.

I don't remember what Richard called this fellow...

Hoary Puccoon - Lithospermum canescens

... but it caused a bit of a stir in the group of botany enthusiasts. But then anything green with the possible exception of Sprite cans and privet hedge interested them.

One BotSoccer would declare his opinion of a questionable plant on the hillside while another would politely demur. "Nowadays most folks consider that a variety of such and such." "Not me, I think it should be considered a separate species...." Etc.

Richard Ware, my good friend and the leader for this excursion points out the beautifully blooming serviceberry overhanging the river ...

Downy Serviceberry - Amelanchier arborea
Cutleaf Toothworth - Dentaria laciniata
Violet Wood Sorrel - Oxalis violacea

Downy Serviceberry - Amelanchier arborea

... the sweetshrub, the mayapples, and dozens of others. His friend Max wanders away from the group often and calls out occasionally about an interesting find -- sometime a possibly new find for Floyd County, or even the state.

As we crossed a more open area of grasses and briars I caught this pair of Eastern Blues mating.

The north-facing rock-outcropping beyond the primitive camping area is the prize location. My effort at capturing an image of an early and tiny orchid in full bloom failed. But the bloodroot, toothwort...

Cutleaf Toothworth - Dentaria laciniata

and sorrell...

Violet Wood Sorrel - Oxalis violacea

cooperated better.

It was a great walk. I'll update this post with scientific names when I can get Richard or Teresa to help me...hint, hint. (4/6/08 -- Got 'em. Thanks, Richard!)

Today (Sunday) is the trip back to Pigeon Mountain. How I wish I could go. My photos from that wildflower walk last year may be my most popular post of all time. Next weekend many of my family will be together for Don's memorial service. Maybe I can talk a few of them into an excursion to LaFayette to see the bluebells and trillium and trout lilies.


By the Way: Don't forget to get your submissions in to Learning In The Great Outoors, the carnival of environmental education, hosted for April by Barb at The Heart of Harmony. You can use this handy submission form.

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