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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:36 PM   #1
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Default Holston Mountain Flower Hunt

Was up at Holston Mountain twice in the past few weeks, searching for a few rare and unusual plants, and one rare butterfly. First hike was along the Holston Mountain Trail. Here the Turk's Cap Lilies (and the Stinging Nettles) were thriving!
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:37 PM   #2
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This high elevation species of Milkweed - called Poke Milkweed - was also at peak bloom.
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:38 PM   #3
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Poke milkweed is a nectar source for one of our rarer butterflies, so we always plan at least one hike up on Holston when it is blooming. Sure enough, we spotted a few Diana Fritillaries. Here's one sitting beside an acorn top - to give you an idea of his size.
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:38 PM   #4
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And here are a few shots of the same male, enjoying the sunshine among the nettles and on the path. Females are blue instead of orange, but we didn't see any females this trip.
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:39 PM   #5
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We did see some tasty trailside snacks!
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:40 PM   #6
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And we saw buds of two more plants (Michaux's Lily and Yellow Fringed Orchis).
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:41 PM   #7
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These buds encouraged us to return a few weeks later for another hike. This time we went UP the Flint Mill Trail. It's one of the shortest, but steepest ways to the top. Along the way, we spotted a new county record for a small bloom of the dry places. A huge bed of Curtis' Milkwort has sprouted near a recent controlled burn...
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:42 PM   #8
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The dry slopes of Flint Mill trail are ideal for Michaux's Lily - one of our few native lilies that is not affected by the lily fungus, probably because it grows in wet places. They don't bloom every year. But this year must have been just right for them.
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:43 PM   #9
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We also saw LOTS of Yellow Fringed Orchid up at the top of the trail. Not a rare wildflower, but its beauty sure was worth the climb.
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Old Aug 31, 2014, 9:44 PM   #10
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These little fellows also think that the dry rocky slopes of Holston Mt are ideal habitat. You can tell that Copperheads are venemous by the shape of their pupils. But if you are close enough to examine their pupils, you are probably too close! These two were nestled rather far back in a rock crevice. I had to use a sheet of paper as a reflector to shed some light on them...
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