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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:07 PM   #1
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Default East Tennessee is Blooming!

What a season for blooming things! Despite a few recent light frosts, the mild winter and early spring have brought many of our East Tennessee plants into bloom weeks earlier than usual. Here are a few samples, from some recent hikes out into Rocky Fork, up on Buck Mountain, and at the home park.

Was very surprised in the midst of some recent trail work to discover that our home park's Pink Lady's Slippers are already in full bloom! Most years these native wild orchids bloom about the first week of May, but these were already blooming in mid April!

(any preferences among these varied views?)
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:09 PM   #2
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Also found two of my favorite young woodland plants in bloom. Purple Phacelia is a lovely delicate bloom, and a favorite with some of our tiny native bees. And Crossvine scents the young forests for yards around with its heavy syrupy aroma.
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:11 PM   #3
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Out at Rocky Fork Wilderness recently for a good 14 mile hike. Frisky dogs did not want to stop for photography, but did manage a few snaps along the way.

Here are two of our native Irises, the Dwarf Crested Iris and the Vernal Iris. (Can you tell that we had plenty of rain the night before?)
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:12 PM   #4
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Also noticed that the Lousewort was in abundant (and early) bloom up at Rocky Fork. "Wort" is an old word for "useful plant." Can you guess what folks thought Lousewort was good for?
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:15 PM   #5
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Witches Hobble was also blooming early & abundantly at Rocky Fork. This native Viburnum is supposed to keep witches away from your home...

Notice the big white flowers surrounding the cluster of little ones. Those larger flowers are sterile, and only serve to attract insects to the smaller ones in the middle...
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:18 PM   #6
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Will be leading a guided hike on the Appalachian Trail up on Buck Mt early next month, so took a few moments to check the trail ahead of time. This is the best place in our region for a lovely, tiny wildflower called Fringed Polygala. Have never seen any insects visiting these blooms, so not sure who their pollinators are. But they were abundant enough that even the fast-moving through-hikers noticed them!
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:20 PM   #7
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And one non-flowering plant was also abundant up at Buck Mt. Cinnamon Fern is usually rather late to unfurl, but there were plenty of unrolling fiddleheads at the (frequent) creek crossings.
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 8:21 PM   #8
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Hope you enjoyed these views of our (amazingly diverse) spring flora. And thanks for taking the time to share your comments & critique!
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Old Apr 26, 2012, 11:41 AM   #9
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As far as the Lady's Slippers I like the 2nd down on the left best, also liked the 2 Iris shots

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Old Apr 26, 2012, 7:37 PM   #10
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Great pictures of a wonderful spring. You provide the such well-done presentations of a spectacular region. Thanks for the photos and guide to east Tennessee!
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