Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wildflowers at Oconee Station Historic Site and Station Cove Falls (Part 1)

April 2nd, 2014. We made a short trip over to Devil’s Fork State Park, South Carolina in search of Shortia galacifolia (Oconee Bells, Southern Shortia) and Monotropsis odorata (Pygmy Pipes, Appalachian Pygmy Pipes, Sweet Pinesap). While we were there we made a side trip to Oconee Station Historic Site and the Station Cove Falls. 

Map of the trails from the Oconee Station Historic Site to the falls. We parked at the historic site and walked down to the pond. The main trail stays on the highway side of the pond and follows the creek up to the highway. Although the map shows a trail around the pond, it is quite primitive. It was late in the day so we decided to hike to the falls the following morning.  

The only wildflower we found at the pond were patches of Bird's-foot Violets (Viola pedata) and these were along the dam. 

To reach Station Cove Falls, we parked on the highway where the trail from the Oconee Station Historic Site crosses the road. The main trail connects the historic site to Oconee State Park which is about 3-1/2 miles from the highway and is intended for hiking and mountain biking. It’s wide and easy hiking. Logs have been embedded in some short sections to stabilize the trail where puddles would form after rain. The trail initially descends from the highway and then follows a contour along the hillside until it crosses the valley along the creek, periodically crossing tributaries to the creek. The area is an open, deciduous forest that is relatively dry until the area In the immediate vicinity of the falls which is much more humid.

We were surprised by the number of Little Sweet Betsy trilliums (Trillium cuneatum) that we found along the first half of the trail. 

Among these was an unusual ‘double’ variant with two sets of leaves and flowers. 

We also saw an unusually large number of ‘yellow’ variant Little Sweet Betsy trilliums – on the left side of this cluster of flowers. 

Closer views of one of these variants. 

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). This is the first time that I have seen Bloodroot in bloom. These were a little past their best but still impressive. The leaf is visible to the right of the bloom and with grow larger with time.

Some Bloodroot plants had finished blooming and seedpods were developing.  

There were a few clumps of the Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia). 

We found a single cluster of Virginia Pennyroyal (Obolaria virginica) plants in bloom. This is the first time I’ve seen this wildflower. 

Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) plants were beginning to bloom. 

We were surprised to find Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) blooming in full sunshine by the side of the trail. Usually we have seen these in sheltered areas. We found several more plants in open areas.  

Closer views of this flower. 

Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata). This was the only plant of this species that we saw on the trail. It was blooming a short distance from the Jack-in-the-pulpit. 

Continued at: Wildflowers At Oconee Station Historic Site and Station Cove Falls (Part 2) 

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