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Old May 22, 2013, 7:46 PM   #1
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Default Some Mountain Flowers

Have been exploring a number of high-country trails this spring, in search of new flowering plant records. Have enjoyed plenty of great views, plenty of spring storms, and a number of fascinating blooms. Here are a few samples.

First from our newest Wilderness Area, soon to be our newest Tennessee State Park... Rocky Fork in Unicoi County TN is amazingly diverse in every form of life, including spring wildflowers. Here's a common but lovely one, the Dwarf Crested Iris...
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Old May 22, 2013, 7:47 PM   #2
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Had to stop to enjoy the biggest waterfall at Rocky Fork, 100 feet of falling water over on Lower Higgins Creek.
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Old May 22, 2013, 7:49 PM   #3
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Just past the falls, on a little-used path, found a HUGE population of a rather rare (in our region) wildflower called Fringed Polygala. It's a tiny, early spring bloomer that spreads slowly, but can eventually cover a hillside. Here are some views of the typical bloom.
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Old May 22, 2013, 7:51 PM   #4
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Fringed Polygala blooms are almost always a deep pinkish hue. But we were pleasantly surprised to find that almost 20% of the blooms at Rocky Fork were of the even rarer white variety.
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Old May 22, 2013, 7:54 PM   #5
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Have not visited the Greene Mountain Trail in more than a year. The dry shaley soils here are perfect for one of our showy, but rather uncommon, native violets. Bird's Foot Violet is named for the deeply dissected leaves (like a bird's toes).
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Old May 22, 2013, 7:55 PM   #6
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Dwarf Crested Iris (first photo in this thread) thrives in rich moist soils. Its close cousin, Vernal Iris, prefers the drier forests. We found several healthy plants up at Greene Mountain...
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Old May 22, 2013, 7:57 PM   #7
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And one more unusual wildflower from Greene Mt Trail - it's called Lousewort. Such an odd name for a pretty little flower. "Wort" is old English for plant, especially useful plant. These plants were once thought to be useful to repel lice!
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Old May 22, 2013, 8:00 PM   #8
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Next a quick trip up Buck Mountain in Carter County, to check out the blooming things around Jones Falls. This is on the Appalachian Trail, so the most common living thing observed were MANY northbound through hikers. Although Jones Falls is only 0.2 miles off the main trail, on a well-marked side path, quite a few of these through hikers told me that they did not have time to stop to view the falls!!
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Old May 22, 2013, 8:01 PM   #9
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But we did have time to "stop and smell the flowers," including this fine patch of one of our showiest native orchids, appropriately named Showy Orchis.
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Old May 22, 2013, 8:02 PM   #10
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It looks like an especially good year for Painted Trilliums up on Buck Mountain. Not a long blooming season for these plants, but certainly worth the trip to check them out.
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