Cindy and I headed down to The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain around 4:30 Friday afternoon. I knew the light would be failing on the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail soon after we arrived, but I was committed for Saturday, and wanted to make sure I was able to make a weekly report on the wildflower status during the spring season. If you’re into watching the seed-formation process, this is a good time for you. There is still an abundance of wildflowers in The Pocket, making a trip absolutely worthwhile, but of the “signature flowers,” Virginia bluebell and wood poppy are past blooming or almost so, and the bent trillium is abundant but in decline. The dominant species in the boardwalk area is probably the wild hyacinth, with the wild geranium still providing a pink splash around much of the trail.
I didn’t spot a single Virginia bluebell blossom, although I didn’t walk on the back side of the boardwalk loop. There were still a few yellow wood poppies (aka celandine poppy) blooming, but the very interesting – and very fuzzy – seed pods are their noteworthy feature right now. Those seed pods will become even more noteworthy later on in the season as they split open and the pods fold upward. Bent trillium are, as mentioned above, abundant and beautiful, but most of the blossoms are showing signs of age. It’s interesting to note the formation of the seeds at the end of the stalk where the white blossoms so recently hung.
I had been watching a particular mayapple plant away from the boardwalk area for several weeks. Two weeks ago one of the plants had a flower bud forming. Cindy and I were rewarded this week with that plant producing one of its beautiful flowers. The blossoms are difficult to spot since they are usually hidden under the umbrella of the leaf when viewed from above.
If you want to see the Eastern Columbine, you’ll need to go up to the falls past the end of the boardwalk, or walk the horse trail up near the falls. This beautiful flower is at it’s peak.
This week’s wildflower list for The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain:
- Baneberry: Along the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail boardwalk, they were finished blooming. I noticed one colony up near the falls with a cluster starting to form the seeds as well as one cluster of blossoms.
- Bellwort: We only saw a single blossom. The interesting seeds are forming.
- Blue cohosh: The blossoms on all the plants I saw were gone.
- Blue-eyed grass: Abundant along the horse trail.
- Blue phlox: Very abundant and beautiful in the surrounding forest.
- Chickweed: Continuing to bloom profusely, but not as easy to find.
- Columbine: I called “peak” on the columbine last week, but I think they are even more abundant up around the falls this week. Second “peak?”
- Cumberland spurge: I didn’t see any, but the light was declining as we returned along the horse trail, and they’re pretty easy to overlook.
- Dwarf Cinquefoil: This is blooming along the trail above the falls.
- Foamflower: Still a few left but nearing an end to their season.
- Hyacinth: “Peak!”
- Iris: Still easy to find good specimens of crested dwarf iris along the horse trail
- Jack in the Pulpit: “Peak continues!” Many fully-formed plants along the boardwalk and elsewhere in the vicinity.
- Mandarin: There are still a few of these blooming along the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail.
- Miterwort: There are still some of these along the trail past the end of the boardwalk.
- Pink Azalea: This beautiful shrub is blooming in the forest in the vicinity of The Pocket, well north of the parking area.
- Purple phacelia: A few of these are still blooming, but harder to find.
- Rue anemone: Getting harder to find, and the ones I noticed are smaller.
- Solomon’s seal: I didn’t spot any this week, but I know they are there. Not sure of the blossom status; they seemed a couple of weeks off last week.
- Stonecrop: Abundant.
- Squawroot: This very interesting plant is still blooming.
- * Sweet Cicely: This is a plant I just learned this past week. I noticed the clusters of buds forming a couple of weeks ago. Its clusters of small white blossoms are abundant now. I think this species is Osmorhiza longistylis, also known as longstyle sweetroot. The other species in the area is Osmorhiza claytonii, which is quite hairy.
- Toadshade / Sweet Betsy: The blosssoms are showing their age, but beautiful specimens are still out there.
- Toothworts: Interestingly there appears to be a later species starting to bloom now. I noticed several really nice colonies with fresh blossoms.
- Trailing trillium: Still abundant.
- Trillium (White): Bent trillium – Trillium flexipes – are past their peak, but still abundant and beautiful along the trail, especially up past the end of the boardwalk.
- Virginia bluebell: This lovely flower, a signature blossom for the Shirley Miller Trail, is gone.
- Wild geranium: Still numerous in areas; in decline.
- Wood Betony: The population along the driveway down to the beginning of the boardwalk have a deeper red on the yellow blossoms now.
- Wood (celandine) poppy: Just a few blossoms remain.
- Violets: All of the below violets are still around, with the Canada violets dominating areas of the forest. The common blue and yellow violets were somewhat difficult to find
- Canada violets
- Common blue violet
- Downy yellow violet
- Long-spurred violets
* First spotting of the blossom this year.