Spreading Pogonia (Pogonia divaricata), also known by the prettier name Rosebud Orchid, is a rare terrestrial orchid found in Charlton and Ware counties in Southeast Georgia (other small populations likely exist). The Okefenokee region is one of the most biologically diverse in the state and spring is a great season to observe its abundant flora.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Wildflowers & Native Plants
Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve is one of the true natural wonders of South Georgia (all of Georgia, really). And about ten years ago, it was almost turned into a real estate development. It’s located just off US Highway 84 near Whigham and there’s no admission charge, though donations are accepted. A new sign at the entrance indicates the bloom time as being between late January and early March, though the lilies seem to almost always bloom in the middle of February. It’s essential to follow the Preserve’s Facebook page to get updates on the bloom time, as they can be quirky and sometimes bloom en masse and at other times be quite sporadic.
Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) are primarily an Appalachian species, favoring filtered sunlight on mountain slopes. So how did they end up here? Though there are a few anomalous populations in Southwest Georgia and North Florida, the Wolf Creek population is the largest in the world and thought to have appeared sometime during the last Ice Age.
If you came here and the Trout Lilies weren’t blooming, you’d still love this place. The gentle slope of the riparian forest makes for a good walk. I came this year about a week after the mass bloom and there were still quite a few scattered around the site.
Add to that the beautiful Spotted Trillium (Trillium maculatum) interspersed throughout and you basically have a mountain walk in deepest South Georgia.
The volunteer who greeted us at the entrance was so delightful and informative and we enjoyed talking with her. Grady County should be applauded for recognizing the importance of this resource and sharing it with the public. Instead of waiting for the state to recognize it and all the time that would take, Grady County took it upon themselves to promote and protect it. Highlighting important local resources like this isn’t just a win for the environment but a win for the local economy. We had lunch at a restaurant in Cairo, so yes, there is an economic impact, however small it may be.
Also known as Cutleaf Beardtongue, Penstemon dissectus is a rare member of the beardtongue family and the only species in the region with deeply dissected leaves. It’s endemic to the outcrops and surrounding woodlands of the Altamaha Grit habitat; this population was discovered near Reuben’s Lake. There are only about 30 known populations, all in Georgia.
The sandy ridges of the Alapaha River bottomlands are abundant with these lichens and mosses. On Crystal Lake Road, near the river, they blanket the right of way for nearly a mile.
I don’t know enough about these species to say much about their biology, but they’re a beautiful sight and seem almost otherworldly. The dominant blueish-green variety in most of these photos is known as Dixie Reindeer Lichen, or reindeer moss locally, (Cladonia subtenius). It’s widespread in protected areas throughout South Georgia.
The species seen below is known as British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella), for the bright red “blooms”.
Rhododendron canescens is a familiar harbinger of spring that can be seen blooming along wooded roadsides throughout the South this time of year. Its common names include Native Azalea (a general term for numerous native rhododendrons), Piedmont Azalea, Mountain Azalea, Honeysuckle Azalea, Sweet Azalea, Pinxterflower, among others.
This sign beckoned me to turn in, but besides turning around and snapping a few shots, I was unable to explore this local landmark as it’s private property.
The structure pictured above and the cabin below are all I saw, but there appear to be others on the surrounding property.
The mill pond is a tranquil landscape and a longtime favorite of fishermen.
Scarlet Wild Basil (Clinopodium coccineum) , a species widespread in the nearby Ohoopee Dunes, is present here, as well. I’ve seen more of these interesting native plants in Emanuel County than anywhere else in Georgia.