Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spring Walk At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, 30th April, 2015 (Part 1)

April 30th. I started to walk again at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. One of my favorite walks is from the Group Shelter A to the Old Fort and back.This is a rewarding walk for viewing wildflowers and I’ve been trying to walk it weekly and document the wildflowers I see.

The route, which I described here, here, and here.

It was another sunny day that was very welcome after the many gray days we'd endured.

My first stop was at the Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus) at the water’s edge, just before the second bench on the trail. Some of the flowers, in the background, that I saw blooming the previous week had finished. Other buds had opened and still more buds were waiting. 

Each week I’d been checking an area at the edge of the woods along an open area where the trail meets the disc golf course. I’d seen two plants the previous week but there was no sign of flower heads. This week was different. Both plants had…

small flower heads starting to develop. These are the Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variagata) which has one of the most understated, but exquisite, milkweed flowers. It’s relatively rare in part, I believe, because it’s difficult for insects to fertilize the flowers. Seed pods are rare so perpetuation of the plants tends to depend on individual plants surviving from year to year, which can be a risky proposition.

Scuppernong (Vitis rotundifolia) vines have climbed trees at the edge of the woods and are covered with flower buds.

The first bridge. The sun has moved sufficiently far north to shine on the bridge which would have been shaded at this same time a couple of weeks previously.

The Deerberry (Vaccinium stanineum) plants were still in full bloom in the shaded woods beyond the first bridge.
There was no sign of the flowers of the Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) that I had seen the previous week. In fact, it was hard to spot the tree itself.

There were still a few Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) flowers. Mostly, there were…

flower stalks. I did find

a couple of flower stalks that had started to swell, indicating that they may have been fertilized and were developing seeds. So now I’d be hunting for these.

The Rattlesnakeweed (Hieracium venosum) plants on the trail approaching the cliff were in full bloom now. 

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the wild ginger (Little Brown Jug; Hexastylis arifolia) plants since the height of the blooming season but …

this plant with its fresh, lime-green leaves caught my eye. The flowers are still there; they look like dark, olive-green marbles just below the new leaves.
It was with some anticipation that I approached the witch hazel (presumed to be American Witch Hazel; Hamamelis virginiana). [Thanks to Ellen Honeycutt at ‘Using Georgia Native Plants’ for confirming my suspicions as to the identity of this plant]. The shrub was…

leafing out nicely, and… 

the flower stalks still looked healthy. There was no overt signs of seed capsule development, although there is some ‘bulging’ in the flower stalk at the right of the photo that might indicate a developing seed capsule. Time will tell. This is obviously a waiting game and patience is the name of the game.

The Mountain Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) plants have long since finished blooming and there are no swelling to indicate that flowers were fertilized.

From the cliff, on through the woods towards the Fishing Area.

Looks like this will be the last week for the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acuale) flowers at this spot. The first flower had dried up and the sepals and petals have turned yellow on this flowers, and will soon dry up.

The Pipsissewa (Chimaphila maculata) still has flower buds. It may be a good year for flowers. I've seen a lot of plants with flower buds this year.

A dogwood at the edge of the water – I think it may be a Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum) - was developing flower buds.

I’ve been watching the clumps of Green Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica) for flowers. It looks like…

they are developing in the shadow of the leaves.

The Common Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) were still blooming and developing seedpods (lower photo).

And then off into the Rock Garden… 
(To be continued…)

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