Today's Ramble Report is the joint effort of Hugh Nourse and Don Hunter. Don's photos can be found here.
Twenty-three ramblers met at the arbor today for a ramble through the Garden to the Orange Trail, up the Orange Trail to the Upper Parking Lot, onto the White Trail spur to the Dunson Native Flora Garden and back..
Don Hunter read a wonderful discussion of weeds from The Nature Connection, an Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie, Naturalist, Artist and Educator:
"What about weeds?
“Weed” is not a botanical term, as weeds are really wildflowers. We call them weeds because they grow happily even though we don't plant them and often show up in places where we don't want them! Humans are weeds, too, in the sense that we can live just about anywhere, we can survive under all kinds of conditions, and we are hard to get rid of!
"Many so called weeds are just as beautiful as any cultivated plant (that's what we call plants we grow on purpose), as well as being tough, adaptable, and often quite useful. When I look at “A Garden Guide to Weeds” or “The Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers”, I discover that most of the plants I know are weeds."
Hugh read a short quote from Edwin Way Teale, collected in Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, American Earth, edited by Bill McKibben, p. 313
"The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider's web."
Our first stop was noting that the Florida Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) on which we had observed lichens several weeks ago, looked dead. The adjacent plant was in full and glorious bloom. The lichen covered one looked dead. We wondered which came first, plant stress, lichens, and death.
In the Endangered Plant Garden we noted that the golden ragwort (Packera aurea) had invaded the plot.
In the Indian Garden we noted the rue anemone and remarked on how long it lasts. Blooming were lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), and a wild hyacinth or Quamash hyacinth (Camasia leichtlinii). The latter was like the one in the northwest that the Lewis and Clark expedition learned from the Indians. Also present was a leaf from the deciduous wild ginger (Asarum arifolium) along with Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum), the first of many we were to see. Above the Indian Garden a shrub was showing new leaves, and someone thought it was a bloom. Wanted to know what it was. She read the label, Kalmia latifolia, which is Mountain Laurel. There were also a lot of leaves from a number of plants that were black cohosh (Actea racemosa) that will not bloom until summer.
As we entered the Physic Garden we noted the high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), but the sign below said it was a Gaylusachia procumbens, but it was not procumbent and did not have the leaves of tea berry. The Gaylusachia genus have gold glands on the underside of the leaf that can be seen with a hand lens. We could not see the gold glands on these leaves.
Once again we stopped to admire the PawPaw (Asimina triloba) patch.
Our next stop was at the cultivar, white Loropetalum. Crossing a bridge to the Thinking Lady statue, or is it the one with a headache, we admired the blooming black cherry (Prunus serotina). There was some discussion as to whether it was Cherry Laurel. Black cherry is a deciduous tree, whereas Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) is evergreen.
On the path through the deer fence gate and down to the creek along the Orange Trail there were new leaves of Solomon Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and wild ginger (Hexastylis arifolia). Yellow Three parted violets (Viola tripartita) were in bloom, and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) had gone to seed. The seed was beautifully cradled by the leaf, which was continuing to get bigger to absorb energy for next year. Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) requires two joined leaves to have a blossom, and we did indeed find one just opened. It was so beautiful! Fresh hepatica (Anemone americana) leaves were very attractive. We have been following the beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) to see when their leaves drop and the new ones appear. Today at this point we found a tree still with leaves on it, but the new lovely brown sharp leaf buds were also bursting with new leaves. The leaves of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) have started to appear.
Crossing the bridge at the river edge a vine climbing a muscle wood tree (Carpinus caroliniana) was leafing out, revealing by its paired leaves that it was climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara). Along the creek were lots of wildflowers: rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), blue violet (Viola sororia), the leaves of violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea) with their purple margins, leaves of river cane (Arundinaria sp), leaves of yellow root (Xanthorhiza simplicissima), and blooms of wild geraniums (Geranium maculatum). Another bloom was perfoliate bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata). Hugh discussed how to tell it from the other perfoliate bellwort (U. grandiflora). The inner surface of the tepals in P. perfoliata have orange granular surfaces, which P. grandiflora does not have. A sweet shrub (Calycanthus floridus) was just budding. Someone asked about a sprout with just a whorl of fresh leaves, which turned out to be wild yam (Dioscorea villas). Several ferns have now popped out: broad beech fern (Phegopteris hexagonoptera), Southern Lady Fern (Athyrium asplenioides) and ebony spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron). As was conjectured by ramblers, the name Asplenium was given because it was thought the plant was supposed to cure diseases of the spleen. Another find was blue star (Amsonia tabernaemontana). It was actually in two place: once early along the creek, and once by a nice patch of rue anemone. On the slope heading away from the creek another fern appeared. Just the three basic leaves of the rattlesnake fern (Botrypus virginianus) appeared. Its fertile frond has yet to come up. All along the trail the leaves of Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) was unfurling, the beautiful fiddleheads. Rounding a tree that hid it from view, the Kidney leaf buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus) was quite robust. Hugh had the scientific name right, but the common name was not early buttercup (Thank you Don).
On the white trail spur two more black cherry trees were blooming. Five fingers, Cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis) with its bright yellow flower made this walk to the Dunson Native Flora Garden more interesting. We talked about the two species of Cinquefoil: P. canadensis and P. simplex. The difference is that in P. canadensis the first flower is in the axis of the first well-developed stem leaf, whereas in P. simplex the first flower is in the axis of the second well-developed stem leaf. The appearance of dogwood (Cornus florida) in bloom in the forest is different than what you see in yards. It is a more delicate wafting scene of the white flowers, a truly wonderful sight in Spring. I can still remember the beauty of seeing it for the first time in the woods of North Carolina on a trip from the airport to UNC to give a paper. All along this trail were the leaves of muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) Amazingly, trilliums were popping up along this spur.
Just before entering the Dunson Native Flora Garden the Piedmont Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) was in bloom with its pinkish flowers. below it the leaves of Black Cohosh were up. but Dwarf crested iris (Iris crostata) was hidden in vegetation. But the flowers of columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) were not hidden.
In the Dunson Native Flora Garden trilliums were everywhere, as were Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginiana). More dwarf crested iris, green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) were blooming. The wonderful shooting stars were in full bloom. The sign called them Dodecatheon meadia, but they have just been moved to Primula meadia. Some botanists have told me that they do not agree or like this change at all. Across from the mass of blooming decumbent trilliums (Trilllium decumbent), a lone but quite beautiful yellow trillium (Trillium lutea) was blooming. The tiny trillium (Trillium pusillum) had turned red. The medicinal plant with its very small flower, goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) was also in bloom.
But the joy of the day was to walk up the rocky dry stream behind the golden ragwort to see two amazing trilliums. One was Catesby's trillium (Trillium catesbaei) and Wateree trillium (Trillium oostingii) that has only been named by Chick Gaddy in 2008. Its distribution is limited to South Carolina. It grows under a canopy of deciduous trees, such as butternut hickory, black walnut, slippery elm, box elder, in rich floodplain soils forming large colonies alongside mayapples. It has three broadly rounded, mottled leaves and its flowers have three green-yellow petals and three green to maroon sepals. Cliff, a new assistant in the Dunson Native Flora Garden planted it.
Blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), and halberd leaf yellow violet (Viola hastata) were in full bloom. But at the end of the lower circle we showed everyone the Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana) and how different it was from the black cherry.
Two other flowers to comment on are foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia) and the fact that the petals of Edna's trillium (Trillium persistence) had turned red with age. We do not think the PawPaw tree along the trail is Asimina triloba), as the sign reads. Ellen Honeycutt, who was on our Bot Soc ramble alerted us to the characteristics of the plant that would suggest it should be dwarf pawpaw (Asimina parviflora). We have pointed this out to the curator.
It was time to retire to Donderos for coffee and snacks.