Flame Azalea – Native Plant of the Day 05/29/2017
Photo from 05/30/2004. Location: Big Frog Mountain, Polk County, TN.
More info / photos at the Rhododendron calendulaceum detail page.
My wife and I took a ride up Estelle Mine Road on Pigeon Mountain on this past Saturday. We wanted to go back to a spot to see a very vibrant batch of Wild Comfrey (Cynoglossum virginianum) that we had spotted the week before with only a single blossom open. Turned out to be a great drive. Not only was the Wild Comfrey fully blooming, but we saw many other wildflowers, including our first ever encounter with Yellow Honeysuckle (Lonicera flava) and the bicolored form of Bird’s Foot Violet (Viola pedata.)
My wife captured a photo of this butterfly in flight at a Wild Azalea plant. I think it was actually leaving the plant at the time, but I like it because it looks like it’s dive-bombing the azalea.
For those who were hoping for, as Ed Sullivan would have put it, “A Really Big Shew,” the time has passed in 2009. However, that is relative to The Pocket, and the abundance of wildflowers still exceed what you’ll find in many areas. While the dominant flower along the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail seems to be Sweet Cicely right now, a species that isn’t exactly ‘showy,’ several of the “signature species” could still be found on Saturday, 4/25.
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.