Continued from here...
September 30 – October 1, 2011. We went up to Black Rock Mountain State Park in Rabun County, Georgia, to look for Parnassia asarifolia, the Kidney-leaved Grass of Parnassus, one of the many, many flowers on my bucket list. Parnassia asarifolia is one of two species of Parnassia that grow in north Georgia; the other species is Parnassia grandiflora (Bigleaf Grass-of-Parnassus or Limeseep Parnassia). Parnassia asarifolia is known by the common names Kidneyleaf Grass of Parnassus, Kidney-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus, Appalachian Grass-of-Parnassus and Brook Parnassia. One reference to this species on the web indicated that it might be found in wet areas in Black Rock Mountain State Park including along the West Fork of the James Edmonds Trail. When we saw the terrain in the park, it was obvious that we wouldn’t be able to hike the trail to find it.
But then, as we drove along North Germany Road, we rounded a corner and found them growing in the shade on the south side of the road. We drove further west along the road and found…
… a few plants in a ditch on the north side of the road where they caught the late afternoon sun. The ditch was too deep to be able to climb down to take more photographs so we returned to the first location to photograph. The following photos were taken late afternoon on September 30th or the morning of October 1st, 2011; most were taken using artificial light since the flowers were growing in full shade.
Plants were flowering along the ditch which had water running through it.
A closer view of the plants growing along the ditch.
Some of the flowers along this ditch
We couldn’t see the leaves at the base of the plant. This clasping leaf grew near the base of the flowering stem.
We found these plants late in the blooming season. Most flowers were past their best and we didn’t find any buds. I had to study several photos before I figured out what I was seeing…
Two views of the same flower. The stamens don’t develop at the same time. When the flower opens, the stamen are lying against the ovary. In these photos, only one stamen has developed and is still aligned against the ovary with the immature anther visible as a light brown structure to the center of the flower. The ovoid disks are immature anthers. The circle of golden yellow spots are parts of sterile stamen-like organs (staminoids) that are thought to attract insects to the flower. There are five stamenoids; each has three ‘branches’ topped by a yellow structure.
Two views of the same flower. In this photo, two stamen have matured. One stamen has opened away from the ovary, a second has matured but is still aligned against the ovary, and three immature disks are still visible.
Two views of the same flower. In this photo, all stamen have matured; four have opened away from the ovary and the fifth is still aligned by the ovary. In the upper photo, the stamenoids are clearly visible and show the branching from a single base to the three gold structures.
In this photo, four stamen have lost their anthers; only one remains intact. The glossy texture of the gold structures on the stamenoids is apparent. The stigma is just visible at the tip of the ovary. A developing seedpod is visible in the background.
In this photo, three stamen have lost their anthers; two remain intact. The stigma is visible at the tip of the ovary. This flower has been fertilized that the ovary has enlarged and is turning green as it develops into a seed pod.
A developing seed pod. The aged stigma is clearly visible at the tip of the ovary. The filaments of the stamen and the stamenoid structures are still attached. A couple of petals hang from the stem.
Although we didn’t see all the phases of this plants blooming, it did yield a lot of its secrets. Obviously we’ll have to return earlier next year to see the complete cycle.
Parnassia asarifolia is native to the United States and may be found in seeps from Virginia to Texas with the exception of Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In Georgia, it has been reported from several counties in the Piedmont.
Click on an image to view a larger image
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Parnassia asarifolia (Kidneyleaf Grass of Parnassus)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Parnassia asarifolia
- Wildflowers of the Southeastern U. S.: Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia asarifolia)
- North Carolina Native Plant Society: Parnassia asarifolia (Kidney-leaved Grass-of-Parnassus, Appalachian Grass-of-Parnassus, Brook Parnassia)
- North Carolina State University: Parnassia asarifolia (Grass-of-parnassus, Kidney-leaf grass-of-parnassus)
- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Parnassia asarifolia (Kidneyleaf Grass-of-Parnassus, Appalachian Grass-of-Parnassus, Brook Parnassia)
- Black Rock Mountain State Park, Rabun County, Georgia
- Black Rock Mountain State Park, Rabun County, Georgia: Wildflowers