Saturday, October 6, 2012

Blue Ridge WMA: The North Route

September 2nd, 2012. It was the Labor Day (US) holiday weekend so we took the opportunity to make an overnight trip into the Chattahoochee National Forest. After making our way out of the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management Area, we drove up to Blue Ridge for the night. We retraced our way up the Noontootla River Valley through the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area as we had in mid-December 2011. We hadn’t seen many wildflowers on that trip. We saw a variety of wildflowers on this trip. The first section of the trip was on the Forest Service road to the junction with the road to the Appalachian Trail parking area below Springer Mountain.

Last year, we drove on to the southwest. This year, we retraced our route and continued north to GA-60. The road to/from the Appalachian Trail parking lot below Springer Mountain back to the junction with the Noontootla River road is an east-west road. The north side is dry but the south side is sheltered with some, probably seasonal, seeps that maintain a moist environment.  Here we found…

gentians, probably Gentiana saponaria (Soapwort Gentian, Harvest Bells) in bloom along the embankment.

Closer views

In one of the moister areas we found unusual ferns and empty seedpods from flowers that had bloomed earlier. An area to visit again.

A large patch of Collinsonia canadensis (Richweed) plants were blooming on the north side of the road.

An individual plant in the patch

Close-ups of individual flowers

When we reached the junction with the Noontootla River road, we continued north on Winding Stair Gap Road. The road ran along the top of the ridge. We found…

Aureolaria flava (Smooth Yellow False Foxglove)

The Appalachian Trail crossed the road. Here the Winding Stair Gap Road split into the Appalachian Blue Ridge Road to the right, and Rock Creek Road to the left. We took Rock Creek Road which ran north past Rock Creek Lake to the Chattahoochee National Fish Hatchery and on through the Blue Ridge WMA to GA-60.

We found a small patch of Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue Mistflower, Mistflower, Wild Ageratum, Hardy Ageratum) near the fish hatchery

A Dog Day cicada (Tibicen sp.) was sunning itself in a nearby plant

A clematis, probably Clematis virginiana (Virgin’s Bower) had finished blooming and was setting seed

Seed pods of Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Milkweed) were releasing their seeds

The Oenothera biennis (Evening primrose) plants had finished blooming and were setting seed

Amphicarpa bracteata (Hog Peanut) vines were common

The sad note for the day was the sighting of a Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) that had been killed while crossing the road. It did provide the opportunity for a photograph without having to worry about being bitten.

Next: The high points – Dianna and Great Spangled Fritillaries
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
Southeastern Flora:
- Aslepias tuberosa (Butterfly Milkweed)  
- Oenothera biennis (Evening primrose) 

Name that Plant: Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia:

United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:

SavannahRiver Ecology Laboartory: Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
Related posts:
- Tough Life For A Milkweed: Aphis nerii & Oncopeltus fasciatus

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