Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Striped Gentian (Gentiana villosa)

-->
September 21st, 2012. The next promising roads after the Coleman River Road and the Tallulah River – Tate City roads were the Popcorn – Plum Orchard roads, still in Rabun County.
 
Popcorn Road drops quite steeply from US-76 and then climbs quite steeply again. When it drops down into the next valley, the road fords and unnamed creek and curves slightly to the left. The road then winds its way uphill into an area dominated by rhododendrons and crossed several times by small creeks; this area is full of springs. When Popcorn Road met Plum Orchard Road, we continued up Plum Orchard Road.

We made the most exciting find along these roads late in the afternoon in deep shade under a canopy of rhododendrons. A single gentian plant with white flowers that were easy to spot. At a distance they were pure white and more bottle-shaped than the blue-striped flowers the Gentiana decora (Showy Gentian) flowers we’d seen at many sites in the county.

There are two species, Gentiana villosa (Striped Gentian) and Gentiana alba (Plain Gentian), that have cream-white flowers. Distribution maps suggested that this was G. villosa but the flowers appeared to be cream-white without any blue-purple stripes. Since G. alba has been documented to occur in North Carolina and Rabun County abuts North Carolina, it seemed plausible that this might be G. alba particularly since plants, in general, don’t seem to have read the distribution maps and are often found in locations other than those that have been documented officially.

Since A. L. Gibson at Natural Treasures of Ohio is familiar with, and has posted photographs of G. alba here and here as well as a close-up photo here. I asked him to look at these photographs. He has identified these flowers as G. villosa. Many thanks, Andrew!


The flower head. The green veining adds to the beauty of these flowers. There are some hints of purple that Andrew spotted in enlargements of this photo. Since there was only one flower head and the flowers were so perfect, I remember being consciously reluctant to even touch them although I may have been the only person to have appreciated their beauty this season.


Closer views of the flowers from slightly different angles. These are, indeed, exquisitely beautiful flowers.

A leaf

There was another gentian plant in bloom a few feet from this one. The flowers were blue and, although I photographed them, I discounted them at the time. However, when preparing this post, I went back to study the blue flowers only to find that they, too, were G. villosa flowers but a uniform blue with the green veining visible in the cream-white flowers.

The flower head with the blue flowers. These flowers have opened slightly further than the cream-white flowers had, and…

the blue-purple stripes are just visible in the flower on the right.

A leaf on the ‘blue’ plant.

Originally I thought that the cream-white flowers were the rare ones but it may be that these blue flowers are the unusual flowers of this species.

It’s interesting that the distribution maps for G. villosa indicate that they may be found in many counties in Georgia, although not formally documented in Rabun County. I’m surprised that, given the number of patches with numerous G. decora plants we found in this county, we didn’t see more G. villosa plants during our travels through the country. Interestingly, also, other photographers in the Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina area who’ve posted photos of Gentiana species have not posted photographs of G. villosa. Based on the distribution map for this species, it would appear that it should be relatively easy to find in all three states. Are G. villosa plants unusual or are we just looking for this species in the wrong place at the wrong time? Future forays will tell…

Gentiana villosa (Striped Gentian) is native to the United States and has been documented from New Jersey west to Indiana and south to Louisiana and Florida. In Georgia, it’s been documented in counties throughout the state, more frequently in counties in the northern part of the state. Interestingly it hasn’t been documented in Rabun County.

Gentiana alba (Plain Gentian) is also native to the United States where it’s been documented from Maryland west to Minnesota and south to Kansas and Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky; it’s also been documented in North Carolina but not in Tennessee, South Carolina, or Georgia. A more detailed map available throught the University of North Carolina University Herbarium*  shows counties in which G. alba has been documented does not show locations in North Carolina.
*Currently the site is being updated. Go to this site and type the species name into the ‘Name’ field to obtain the detailed map.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification Resources:
Southeastern Flora

Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia:

Distribution:
United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:
   
Related posts:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rabun County: Rustic Bridge


September 21st, 2012. The next promising roads after the Coleman River Road and the Tallulah River – Tate City roads were the Popcorn – Plum Orchard roads, still in Rabun County.

Popcorn Road drops quite steeply from US-76 and then climbs quite steeply again. When it drops down into the next valley, the road fords and unnamed creek and curves slightly to the left. The road then winds its way uphill into an area dominated by rhododentrons and crossed several times by small creeks; this area is full of springs. When Popcorn Road met Plum Orchard Road, we continued up Plum Orchard Road.

In these hilly areas, the road often runs along the valley bottom by the creeks. Often, farms with their open fields are located across the creeks from the road. Farmers have to build bridges over the creeks to reach their homes. Most are functional bridges but on Plum Orchards Road we found one that is a true work of art.

The driveway and bridge. The driveway and bridge have rails and supports made from tree trunks. A bench has been built into the bridge over the creek.  The fence in the foreground is a rough-hewn split-rail fence with two vertical posts and the rails dropped into place between them.

A closer view of the bridge and bench

A still closer view of the bridge and bench. The gate to the driveway was locked so it wasn’t possible to get a closer look. It’s clear, however, that the bark wasn’t removed from the supports or rails and that the ends of the exposed upright supports and the ends of the rails were capped to protect them from rot.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Related post:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mushroom: Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea)?

September 21st, 2012. The next promising roads after the Coleman River Road and the Tallulah River – Tate City roads were the Popcorn – Plum Orchard roads, still in Rabun County.
 
Popcorn Road drops quite steeply from US-76 and then climbs quite steeply again. When it drops down into the next valley, the road fords and unnamed creek and curves slightly to the left. The road then winds its way uphill into an area dominated by rhododendrons and crossed several times by small creeks; this area is full of springs. When Popcorn Road met Plum Orchard Road, we continued up Plum Orchard Road. Further along Plum Orchard Road from where we found the mushrooms on the hillside, we found another large cluster growing on the embankment right beside the road. These allowed better access for photographing.

The main cluster was on the left side of the trunk. When we found them there were still shadows on them.

A closer view


Looking down on the caps. The two-tone colored caps makes me think they are Pholiota mutabilis, the Changing Pholiota.

As we photographed the sun moved lower and the mushrooms were in complete sunlight

The mushrooms to the right of the tree trunk were not growing in an organized fashion.  seemed to be growing…

Individually in loose clusters, or in a

tight cluster from a ‘single point’

Some were growing as individuals and …



were works of art.

Originally I identified these mushrooms tentatively identified these as a Pholiota mutabilis based on the prominent annulus (ring), the scaly stems, and the two-tone colored caps but… I've revised this identification to the Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea) based on photographs published by the Ohio Mushroom Society.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification Resources:


The Ohio Mushroom Society: Armillaria mellea
Related posts:
 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mushroom: Armillaria mellea?


September 21st, 2012. The next promising roads after the Coleman River Road and the Tallulah River – Tate City roads were the Popcorn – Plum Orchard roads, still in Rabun County.

Popcorn Road drops quite steeply from US-76 and then climbs quite steeply again. When it drops down into the next valley, the road fords and unnamed creek and curves slightly to the left. The road then winds its way uphill into an area dominated by rhododentrons and crossed several times by small creeks; this area is full of springs. When Popcorn Road met Plum Orchard Road, we continued up Plum Orchard Road. We found a variety of Fall wildflowers and mushrooms along these roads.

The hillside rose steeply from the road at one point along Plum Creek Road. A little way up the slope we spotted a magnificent cluster of mushrooms. In addition to the steepness of the slope, it was covered with leaves which made it slippery. But this was a photo op too good to miss.

The main cluster

There was a minor cluster to the right. I scrambled my way up the slope to it and perched precariously to take photos of these mushrooms. A close-up view of mushrooms in the minor cluster.

And then I concentrated on the major cluster.

The complete cluster…

The buttons on the left


A closer view of the cluster of opened mushrooms. The caps of the largest among them was easily 7 to 8 inches in diameter.

A closer view of the largest caps.

Originally, I identified them as a Pholiota species based on the prominent annulus (ring) and the scaly stems but… I've revised this identiification ot Armillaria mellea based on photographs published by the Ohio Mushroom Society.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resource:
The Ohio Mushroom Society: Armillaria mellea
Related post:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rabun County: Wildflowers On Popcorn – Plum Orchard Roads


September 21st, 2012. The next promising roads after the Coleman River Road and the Tallulah River – Tate City roads were the Popcorn – Plum Orchard roads, still in Rabun County.
 
Popcorn Road drops quite steeply from US-76 and then climbs quite steeply again. When it drops down ino the next valley, the road fords and unnamed creek and curves slightly to the left. The road then winds its way uphill into an area dominated by rhododendrons and crossed several times by small creeks; this area is full of springs. When Popcorn Road met Plum Orchard Road, we continued up Plum Orchard Road. We found a variety of wildflowers and mushrooms along these roads.

Gentiana saponaria (Soapwort Gentian, Harvestbells)
We found Soapwort gentians at lower elevations.

Buds

A closer view

Impatiens capensis (Jewelweed)
We didn’t see many plants along this road but the flowers were striking.

 
Amanita muscaria (Southern Fly Agaric)?

Just a couple, growing on an embankment

A closer view

Goodyera pubescens (Downy Rattlesnake Plantain)

Plants covered a high embankment at one point on Plum Orchard Road. I've not seen so many plants in one location
 
A closer view of a few plants. These are easy to recognize at a distance

Lycopodium digitatum (Fan Clubmoss, Running Cedar, Fan Ground-pine, Running Ground Pine, Common Running-pine)
Plants were starting to fruit

Gentiana decora (Showy Gentian, Appalachian Gentian, Striped Gentian)
Showy Gentians were blooming at higher elevations



We found some particularly beautiful specimens

Gentianella quinquifolia (Fivefinger Gentian, Eastern Agueweed, Stiff Gentian, Agueweed)

Plants in this area were growing in partial shade and were more delicate flowers compared with those we found at Patterson Gap.

These were good finds but the best were yet to come…
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification Resources:
Southeastern Flora
 
Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia:

Georgia Museum of Natural History: Southern Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)?
 
Distribution:
United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:
   
Related post:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nodding Lady’s Tresses (Spiranthes cernua)

September 21st, 2012. The next promising roads after the Coleman River Road and the Tallulah River – Tate City roads were the Popcorn – Plum Orchard roads, still in Rabun County.

Popcorn Road drops quite steeply from US-76 and then climbs quite steeply again. When it drops down ino the next valley, the road fords and unnamed creek and curves slightly to the left. The area on the outside of the curve is very wet in the path of the drainage from a spring – water is running; it’s wetter than a seep. The orchids were growing in the middle of this wet area in the full afternoon sun.

A section of the patch of orchids. The flowering stems were much more visible than they appear in this photograph.

Closer, and …

still closer. There were probably about two dozen plants in this area that extended further up the road.

Views of an individual stem …

 in the sunlight, and…
in the shade when a cloud moved over.

A closer view of the stem.

A close view of the flowering section of the stem, and…



closer views of individual flowers. These were still blooming on October 20th when we drove by this area again.

Spiranthes cernua (Nodding Lady’s Tresses) is native to the United States where it’s found from Maine west to Wisconsin and south to Nebraska, Texas and Georgia; it’s not been documented in Florida. In Georgia, its been documented in counties throughout the state.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification Resources:
Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Spiranthes cernua (Nodding Ladies'-tresses)

Distribution:
United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Spiranthes cernua (Nodding Lady’s Tresses)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rabun County And Beyond: Tate City Road


September 15th, 2012. After driving over Patterson Gap Road in the Chattahoochee National Forest, we turned off Persimmon Raod and drove up the Coleman River Road as far as we could go. We still had some daylight although it was cloudy. We decided to drive up the Tallulah River Road. At the end of the Tallulah River Road, we turned right onto Tate City Road. The valley widens here with the river, much smaller here, on the other side of the fields. We continued on past Tate City and finally ran to the end of the paved road onto a gravel road when it crossed the Georgia-North Carolina border and ended at the head of a trail into the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. On the way, we found…
 
Showy Gentian (Gentiana decora) or Soapwort Gentian (Gentiana saponaria)
Just a few plants growing on an embankment. This one had a nicely opened flower.  My current guess is G. decora but please correct me if I’m wrong. I still struggling with gentians.

The leaves, flowers and buds

A closer view

I tried for better photographs of the opened flower but was balanced precariously on loose pine needles on the side of a steep embankment and didn’t quite pull it off, but…

An oblique view of the flower, and…

A direct view that’s not quite in as quite a sharp focus as I would have liked.

Another land snail (Mesodon sp.?)

Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
This was the first time I had seen these ferns. They are striking…

at a distance.

A closer view

A close-up view of a frond.

The road ended at the head of a trail into the Southern Nantahala Wilderness


It was getting dark but we wandered along the road near the trail head.

Common Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum subspecies triphyllum)
We found a number of jacks-in-the-pulpit along the hillside above the road. I’ve never seen this species in the wild although I’ve been following a plant of Arisaema triphyllum subsp. quinatum (Southern Jack-in-the-pulpit) in Greene County for a couple of years now.

We spotted the ripe seeds and the leaves gave their identity away.

A closer view of the ripe seeds.

Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus)
I still enjoy finding these in the woods.


Close views of the ripe seeds

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
There were quite a lot of Impatiens capensis plants at the edge of the parking area. The flowers were a little past their best.

 
Pale jewelweed (Impatiens pallida)
Only the second place where I’ve seen Impatiens pallida. There were only a few plants; they were far outnumbered by Impatiens capensis plants.

 
Buckeye seeds
We walked just a little way up the trail. A number of buckeye seed pods with exposed seeds were lying on the trail


 
It was late in the season and almost dark as we walked around this area which is certainly a place we’ll visit again in different seasons.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
Southeastern Flora

Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia:
- Arisaema triphyllum subsp. quinatum (Southern Jack-in-the-pulpit, Preacher John, Prester-John)
 
Distribution:
United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:
 
Related post: