Flora Fridays – May 10, 2024

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Woodland Botanicals

Welcome to spring in the Uwharrie’s! Most trees have put on their leaves for the season by this point. I am sure many of our readers have been aware of the spring “pollening” occurring – tis the season for dispersal of the yellow dust, covering roads and impacting sinuses across the Piedmont. It is also prime time to pay our forests a visit. Cool spring days limit human interactions with summer challenges such as heat, biting insects, and snake activity. There are many easy-moderate level foot trails in and around the county. In Troy, these are accessible mostly just off NC 24/27 and along NC 109. I have been enjoying the Densons Creek Trail behind the Uwharrie Ranger Station on lunch break walks. The three plant species covered in today’s Flora Friday are of interest now on Montgomery County Trails. 

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Closeup of mountain laurel inflorescence

Fallen mountain laurel flowers covering the Uwharrie Trail

Our first feature is a plant that is quite uncommon in the Piedmont. Mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, is an evergreen shrub more often found in the mountain coves. It’s white to pink blooms begin opening in our region around April. The numerous flower buds emerge gourd shaped, but pop open into red speckled umbrellas. Indigenous Americans reportedly used the plant for reducing pain, fevers, and inflammation. However, it is not recommended to ingest any part of mountain laurel due to toxic effects in some individuals.

Catesby’s trillium (Trillium catesbaei)

Trailside Catesby’s trillium near the Little River

Catesby’s trillium (Trillium catesbaei) is another woodland plant more commonly found in mountainous regions. However, it can also be found in the valleys and moist hillsides of the Uwharrie region. The pictured specimen was observed in a floodplain of the Little River, which winds its way through Montgomery County from Asheboro to the greater Pee Dee River. The pink flowers nod below or are parallel with the green whorl of three leaves. The entire plant dies back to the roots by June, remaining dormant under the soil until the following spring.

Green-and-gold (Chrysogonum virginianum

Green-and-gold flowering near the Uwharrie Ranger Station after a recent controlled burn

The final feature of this edition of Flora Fridays is green-and-gold, Chrysogonum virginianum. Green-and-gold is frequently observed in open hardwood forests of the Piedmont. It is an excellent candidate for home wild-themed gardens, where it will bloom throughout the warm months and over time form a ground cover. The seeds of this plant have an attached food body which attracts ants, which chew off the food body and disperse the seed. Green-and-gold is a native wildflower with a widespread range from Louisiana east to Florida and north to New York.

We hope you have enjoyed this edition of Flora Fridays! Please consider leaving feedback in the box below. At Extension, we are here to listen to and address your needs. 

Check out past Flora Fridays.