The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain Status Update 3/18/2014

While the weather is keeping things slow, things are picking up at The Pocket.  Several species have started blooming, and even more are “almost there.”  Checking last year’s reports, we’re tracking pretty close to 3/10/2013.  The big excitement for me today was finding that a few Dutchman’s Breeches have started blooming.

Dutchman's Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria

Dutchman’s Breeches – Dicentra cucullaria

Read on for a more complete update…

First, the list of what is STILL blooming:

  • Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa) – Surprising to me that many are still blooming this late.
  • Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis) – On the decline, but still plentiful.
  • Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) – Peak bloom right now; some seedpods (siliques) are showing up.

    Cutleaf Toothwort - Cardamine concatenata

    Cutleaf Toothwort

  • Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) – I saw a lot of seedpods today, but most plants are still blooming…
  • Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) – Plentiful (but unopen today due to the overcast.)

What has started blooming since last week’s report (3/10/2014):

  • Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) – Several plants were blooming, but only a few had one or two fully developed blossoms, as shown in the cover photo for this article.
  • Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica) – Most plants are full of buds, but many have a blossom or two fully open.  A few days and they’ll be great.

    Virginia Bluebells - Mertensia virginica

    Virginia Bluebells

  • Wood Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) – I found two plants with blossoms.  Did not see a lot ready to bloom.
  • Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) – While looking down at the flowers don’t forget to look up once in a while and you may be treated to a yellow cloud.
  • Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) – A number of plants have blossoms, but they weren’t open.  It was a drizzly, cold, overcast day and I suspect they would have been open if the sun were shining.

    Trout Lily; Dogtooth Violet - Erythronium americanum

    Trout Lily

  • Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) – These are scattered around, more noticeably on the Pocket Loop Trail.
  • Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata) – Quite a few blooming along the Pocket Loop Trail, but I expect many more soon.

    Long-spurred violet - Viola rostrata

    Long-spurred violet

  • Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens, I think) – I saw two or three along the boardwalk.
  • Cumberland Spurge (Euphorbia mercurialina) – A few are blooming along the Pocket Loop Trail.  You’ll have to look sharply to notice the  white/green/yellow cyathium.
  • Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera) – This is usually a pretty early bloomer, so I was surprised to see only one small colony blooming along the Shirley Miller Trail extension to the falls.

These are about to bloom – probably within a week:

  • Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) – Dominant foliage along much of the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail because they are taller than most of the surrounding plants. They are very close to blooming; I’d be surprised if many aren’t open by this weekend.
  • Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) – Quite a few of these lovely Fleabanes are pushing their fuzzy stems and leaves up through the duff; a few had blossoms forming but not yet open.  Look along and on the rock bluff alongside the Pocket Loop Trail heading to the top of the falls.
  • Plantainleaf Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) – Flowers are almost open on many of these.  Along both sides of the the road – at the “pull-off” overlooking the top of the falls.  Click on the image below to see a new plant pushing up above last year’s plantain-like leaf, and a nearby plant with flowers just about ready to open.

    Plantain-leaf Pussytoes, Woman's Tobacco - Antennaria plantaginifolia

    Plantain-leaf Pussytoes

  • Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) – Most are just foliage (I say “just”, but the plants are beautiful even without the blossoms), but I found one colony on the bluff alongside the Pocket Loop Trail nearly to the falls which has the white flower buds forming.  My guess is that it will be a week before they are open.
  • Trillium – T. flexipes, T. cuneatum, and T. decumbens all have buds that will be opening in the next week or so; I’d be surprised to see any blooming by this weekend.
  • Purple Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifada) – Quite a number have flowers in bud; I think the earliest on some rocks up near the falls are still several days from blooming.
  • Pennywort (Obolaria virginica) – I usually only see one or two of these tiny plants along the Pocket Loop Trail on the way up to the falls, but this year I spotted three or four.  A couple were very close to blooming.

    Pennywort, Virginia Pennywort - Obolaria virginica


Lots of foliage for other plants – Geranium, Columbine, Bellwort, Buckeye, Wild Hyacinth come to mind immediately, but they’re still a ways off before blooming.

Blue Hole Road is still closed, as of Tuesday, March 18.
I spoke with the Georgia DNR staff, and they report that they’d planned to open it this week, but the rain has delayed further work.  Slight possibility it will be open by Saturday, but more likely it won’t be open until next week.  Incidentally, the closure is because the road is being moved about 25 feet because the old road slightly encroached on neighboring private property.

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3 thoughts on “The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain Status Update 3/18/2014

  1. Bruce Roberts

    Thanks for the updates! I get up to Crockford-Pigeon Mtn for day explorations about once a month, but as mentioned previously, my wife & I are planning an overnighter for The Pocket wildflowers soon. Looks like either end of next week, or first week in April should be good. BTW, Hepatica blooms were peaking on the slopes at Mountain Cove Farm Cave 1 when I was there on March 13.


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