Wednesday, 04/16/2014, woke up bright and beautiful, if a bit chilly with overnight lows in the lower 30’s. I had a reminder on my calendar to check for Trillium sulcatum, a species I had not seen previously, at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Calendar and weather were in sync, so around 10 AM I headed out for my first visit to this wonderful, nearby state park in 2014. I spotted some Vernal Iris (Iris verna) along the park’s entrance road, a portent of what I hoped would be a beautiful walk. I was not disappointed.
Some research made it most likely for me to find the Trillium I was seeking near the bottom of the Waterfalls Trail, so that’s where I headed. At the top I was greeted by a Dogwood, starting to replace the Redbud as the showy flowering tree in our northwest Georgia forests.
There were many Bluets along the trail near the top, but I was beginning to wonder if I’d find much of anything else – some Halberdleaf Yellow Violets not quite open; and foliage of Trailing Arbutus with flower buds just starting to form. As I started down the steep drop toward the upper waterfalls (Cherokee Falls) trail, I was greeted with a view that told me it would be an enjoyable hike even if I didn’t find my target wildflower.
Since I had 2 more wildflower stops to make miles away and I was hoping to get home around 2 PM, I decided not to take the time to photograph the waterfalls (but they were flowing nicely; perfect water levels to enjoy the falls and streams,) and I bypassed the side trail to the upper falls, heading on down toward the lower falls. Almost immediately more wildflowers started showing up. Solomon’s Plume (aka False Solomon’s Seal) foliage was abundant and soon their flowers will make for a beautiful display, but Foamflower, Early Meadow Rue, Early Saxifrage, White Baneberry, Yellow Mandarin, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit were all blooming along the stairs down to the lower falls side trail.
As I made the turn toward the lower falls (Hemlock Falls), I looked above the rock wall along which I was walking. Bingo! Trillium sulcatum, aka Southern Red Trillium, Barksdale Trillium, or Furrowed Wakerobin!