Explore, Experience and Enjoy the Beautiful Smith River in Southern Virginia

Friday, April 16, 2010

Now Showing !!!

If you missed the March wildflower show along one of our local trails or preserves, don't you dare miss this months feature presentation:    
                                   (the Sequel)
March brings us the first wildflowers of the season including bloodroots, twin leaf and trout lilys, but April is not to be outdone and rewards the diligent observer  with spectacular treasures seeming to appear out of nowhere.  The trout lily booms are gone but the reticulated leaves of the plant are still visible on the forest floor. The Toadshapes are producing the last of their deep crimson swords but the dark green tri-leaved plant remains.
Mid April is that transition between browns and greens, the leaves on the trees fill out. the grasses sprout fresh and aromatic while the dogwood trees and fields of goldenrod begin to distract us form the real show along shaded streams in the secretive places. That's where treasure is to be found.
A recent outing to the upper Smith River near Woolwine revealed the trilliums had not only bloomed in full but most had even already been pollinated.  Closer to home, the Gravely Nature Preserve still holds many rewards of freshly blooming trilliums and other wildflowers to hiker who ventures down the rhododendron trail along the river.
Its not hard to spot the bright white tri-petal lobes of the Large -Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflora), and the three large leaves that encirle the stalk below the blooms help identify the plant.  When you see the same bloom in a lavendar and purple, you know that one has been pollinated and will only last a few more days as a bloom.
Don't miss the Red, or Purple Trillium, (trillium erectum) hiding out on the cliff face along the trail.
In some areas, its possible to find both the red and the large flowered trillium sharing the same patch of ground near a stream.
Each one of these you spot is a new treat and you will want to bring your camera to catch thier fleeting beauty that will only last a few short weeks.
Don't forget to watch for the lacy purple and white blooms of the Crested Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata) that is found at Gravely as well.  These diminutive jewels are quite fascinating as you examine the intricate delicacies of this streamside beauty.
 The Solomn's Seal (Polygonatum canaliculatum) has not bloomed yet, but it wont be long.  They are recognized by thier hanging blooms down under the arching multi-leaved stem while the "false solomns seal" is very similar in its leaf structure it can be distinguished by its cluster of white flowers at the end of the stem.
 Ferns are everywhere at Gravley Nature Preserve and the" fiddle heads" of the Christmas fern are just begining to unfurl.  A few Maiden hair ferns are quickly leafing out and will soon cover the lower slopes of Jones  ridge with a bright green mini canopy over the forest floor.
The foamflowers are dressing up and getting into the act and so are the Great chick weed plants.  Watch for both along the Rhododendron  trail before you reach the river bottom.

But don't wait !
This special showing is for a limited time only.
It only comes around once a year but the photos you take and the memories of your discoveries
will last through the long and hot summer and dark cold winter.
Next year, you'll be the first in line to see the show !

(All photos were taken on the same trip at Gravley Nature Preserve on April 14, 2010 )