Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Exciting Spring

It appears that the final vestiges of winter have finally fallen away and the forests of Hickory Nut Gorge have finally started to come alive.  This spring is one of the most spectacular that I can recall in a long time.  In years past, I have seen trillium and bloodroot blooming in late February.  This was certainly not the case this year.  Instead, we are seeing early spring ephemerals blooming at the same time as the wildflowers that normally bloom this time of year.  The result is an amazing pallette of color that is utterly unbelievable. 

What has really stood out to me so far this year is the white and purple flowers and how well they have complimented each other.  I recently hiked in the Bat Cave Preserve and it was almost as though the entire forest floor was covered with something blooming. I have never seen such biodiversity at this time of year in Hickory Nut Gorge.  I really think that it has everything to do with the long, cold winter and the slow onset of spring which delayed some of the early bloomers. 

In addition to be colorful, it also seems that so many things are just really big this time.  I saw fire pinks in Chimney Rock State Park that were absolutely huge.  The flowers were over two inches across on one particular plant that I saw.  The Carolina rhododendron is also amazing this year.  Just ride up the road to the Ticket Plaza in Chimney Rock State Park and you'll see what I mean.

I thought I would share a few of my most recent wildflowers pics here on the blog, with some brief descriptions.
Purple phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida) is a member of the Waterleaf Family.

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) grows in the rich coves of Bat Cave Preserve.

Crested dwarf iris (Iris cristata) is one of two dwarf iris blooming in the Gorge right now.
Carolina rhododendron (Rhododendron minus) is prolific in Hickory Nut Gorge.  Notice the spots on the topmost petal.  These are nectar guides that basically serve as a giant runway for insect pollinators.
Fire pink (Silene virginica) is one of my favorite spring wildflowers.
To see my entire spring wildflower photo collection, check out the link to my Flickr Album: