Crimson bee balm

Description Herbaceous perennial from 2 to 5 ft. tall, with a square stem and pungent opposite leaves with serrate margins. Terminal whorl of 2-lipped, bright red flowers subtended by showy, reddish leaf-like bracts. Fruits consist of 1-4 small nutlets. Flowers July-Oct. fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Seepage slopes, streambanks, and roadside ditches, including northern hardwood forests, alluvial forests, and boulder fields. Common in mountains, rare in piedmont. A mostly northeastern species,...

Virginia creeper

Description A high-climbing or trailing woody vine with alternate, palmately compound leaves with 3-7 (usually 5) leaflets and numerous branched tendrils. Tiny greenish flowers in clusters. Fruit a dark blue to black berry, resembling a small grape but inedible. Flowers May-July fruits July-Aug. Habitat range Dry to moist woods, alluvial forests, thickets, rock outcrops, and forest edges. Common. Widely distributed in eastern and central United States. Taxonomy A genus of 10 species of vines of...

Granite dome st johns wort

John's wort family) Description A mat-forming shrub with numerous slender stems up to 12 (rarely 20) in. tall with mostly sessile, elliptic to obovate leaves, about twice as long as wide. Bright yellow flowers solitary or in small, flat-topped inflorescences, 5 sepals and petals, petals about twice as long as sepals, stamens numerous, clustered. Fruit a pointed capsule. Flowers June-Aug. fruits July-Sept. Habitat range Rock outcrops at moderate to high elevations in mountains....

Winged elm

Description Small to medium-sized tree often with corky, wing-like projections on twigs. Leaves small, narrowly elliptical with doubly serrate margins, long-pointed at apex, rounded at base. Tiny reddish flowers in pendulous clusters develop into small, flattened, winged samaras with dense white hairs on margins. Flowers Feb.-Mar. fruits Mar.-Apr. Habitat range Dry and mesic forests, along streams and floodplains, woodlands, forest edges, rock outcrops, fields, disturbed areas. Common in...

Chestnut oak

Description Deciduous tree to 100 ft. tall with dark grey, deeply furrowed bark. Leaf margins with broad round teeth that lack bristles. Male flowers in drooping catkins, female flowers in leaf axils. Acorns 1-1 in. long, cups bowl-shaped, enclosing about one-third of the nut. Flowers Apr. fruits Sept.-Nov. Habitat range Dry upland forests and rocky ridges, including chestnut oak forests, pine-oak-heath, dry oak-hickory forests, and monadnock forests. Common in mountains and upper piedmont....

Crossvine

Description High-climbing woody vine with opposite, pinnately compound leaves with just 2 leaflets per leaf (and a long, slender corkscrew-like tendril between them). Clusters of 2-5 tubular flowers, red to orange on the outside, yellow or red within. Fruit a slender, flat seedpod about 6-8 in. long with numerous winged seeds. Flowers Apr.-May fruits July-Aug. Habitat range Mostly wet to moist forests and woodlands, occasionally drier forests, disturbed areas. Alluvial forests, swamp forests,...

Blackjack oak

Description Small to medium-sized scrubby tree with a short trunk and a round, compact crown. Thick, leathery leaves, 5-8 in. long, abruptly broaden at tip, with 3 bristle-tipped lobes, or un- lobed in overall T or triangular shape, the leaf underside brownish and scurfy. Male flowers in drooping catkins and female flowers in leaf axils emerge after the leaves. Acorns about three-quarters of an in. long, ending in a stout point, the cup covering about half the nut. Flowers Apr. fruits...

Catchweed bedstraw

Description Numerous weak, scraggly stems, some erect, others adhering to or leaning against other plants, with narrow, sessile leaves in whorls of 4-8. Tiny white flowers, each with 4-petal lobes, in small clusters. Mature fruits consist of paired, seed-like structures covered with hooked bristles. Flowers Apr.-May. Habitat range Shady, moist woodlands, meadows, lawns, roadsides, other disturbed areas. Common. Temperate regions throughout the world and at higher elevations in tropics. Taxonomy...

Fire pink

Description Upright perennial herb 1-3 ft. tall with a tuft of basal leaves 3-5 in. long and 2-4 pairs of narrow, sessile stem leaves. Deeply notched scarlet-red flowers with a tubular, sticky green calyx are unmistakable. Fruit an elliptic capsule that tilts downward at maturity to release the seeds. Flowers Apr.-June. Habitat range Moist to dry, open habitats, including woodlands, forest edges, rock outcrops, and road-banks. Common. Widely distributed in eastern North America. Taxonomy A...

Halberdleaf yellow violet

Description Low-growing herbaceous perennial from a white fleshy rhizome. Arrowhead-shaped leaves (2-4) clustered near tip, the upper surfaces usually mottled with silvery blotches. Bright yellow flowers borne on slender stalks just above leaves. Fruit an elliptic capsule. Flowers Mar.-May fruits Apr.-July. Habitat range Moist deciduous forests, including acidic cove forests, oak-hickory forests, and river bluff forests. Common. Eastern United States. Taxonomy More than 80 species of Viola...

Cucumber tree

Description A medium-sized deciduous tree with a single trunk and large silky-white terminal buds. Large (6-10 in. long) leaves spread along twigs, are pointed at apex, wedge-shaped or rounded at base. Slightly fragrant, yellowish green, 2-4 in. long flowers with numerous spirally arranged stamens and pistils. Fruits 2-4 in. long, initially green, later turning red, then dark brown, shaped like a cucumber, hence the common name. Flowers Apr.-May fruits July-Aug. Habitat range Usually on moist,...

Largeflowered bellwort

Colchicaceae (Meadow saffron family) Description Herbaceous perennial with branched stems, 8-30 in. tall. Leaves alternate, perfoliate, margins smooth, apex acute. Large, solitary butter yellow flowers hang from upper leaf axils. Long, narrow, twisted look-alike sepals and petals (3 each) appear limp, even when fresh. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule. Flowers Apr.-May fruits July-Aug. Habitat range Rich, moist woods, often on limestone or calcareous soils. Northern hardwood and cove forests. Common in...

Pineweed

John's wort family) Description Small, upright annual 4-16 in. tall with numerous thread like branches and scale-like leaves. Tiny, star-shaped yellow flowers open in morning and close by afternoon. Fruit a slender cone-shaped capsule with numerous tiny seeds. Flowers July-Oct. Habitat range Rock outcrops, woodland borders, fields, and roadsides. Common. Widespread in eastern United States. Taxonomy Stems resemble pine needles, hence the common name. Also called orange-grass...

Mountain sandwort

Description Mat-forming herbaceous perennial with small white flowers at tips of slender stalks rising above dense tufts of linear basal leaves. Flowers with 5 separate petals, each slightly notched at tip, developing into many-seeded capsules. Flowers May-Oct. fruits July-Oct. Habitat range On rocky or gravelly slopes and ledges of rock outcrops in mountains and upper piedmont. Regionally rare. Greenland, Canada, and higher mountains of New England, with disjunct populations in the southern...

False hellebore

Description Poisonous perennial herb 2-6 ft. tall with a stout, leafy stem. Leaves mostly sessile, somewhat clasping, heavily ribbed, 6-12 in. long. Dense clusters of yellow-green flowers on a branching inflorescence. Fruit an elliptical capsule with numerous winged seeds. Flowers June-Aug. fruits July-Sept. Habitat range Mountain bogs, meadows, seeps, streambanks, and boulder fields. Common in mountains. Taxonomy Five of the 55 species of Veratrum occur in the mountains and piedmont. Small...

Dimpled trout lily

Description A nodding, solitary yellow flower with strongly recurved sepals and petals rises above a pair of elongated, mottled leaves. Fruit a many-seeded capsule. Flowers Feb.-May fruits Apr.-June. Habitat range Rich, moist woods to somewhat dry habitats, including alluvial forests, basic mesic forests, and acidic cove forests. Common. Southeast. Taxonomy A genus of 25 species of North America and Eurasia. Dimpled trout lily is similar to yellow trout lily (E. americanum), but its petals have...

Vaseys trillium

Description Perennial herb up to 2 ft. tall from a short, thick rhizome. Three large, whorled leaves, uniformly green, broadly elliptic, tapering at base. Solitary, maroon flower, 2-4 in. across, on long, nodding stalk, usually with strongly recurved petals. Fruit an obtusely angled dark maroon capsule. Flowers Apr.-early June fruits June-early July. Habitat range Rich woods, often on steep slopes, ravines, stream banks, mainly in cove forests. Uncommon. A southern Appalachian endemic...

L The Mountains

Acer pensylvanicum Striped maple, p. 221 Betula alleghaniensis Yellow birch, pp. 226-27 Prunus pensylvanica Fire cherry, p. 254 Sorbus americana Mountain ash, pp. 262-63 Menziesia pilosa Minniebush, pp. 295-96 Rhododendron catawbiense Catawba rhododendron, pp. 301-2 Rhododendron vaseyi Pinkshell azalea, pp. 304-5 Ribes rotundifolium Appalachian gooseberry, p. 308 Rubus allegheniensis Allegheny blackberry, p. 310 Sambucus racemosa Red elderberry, p. 313 Viburnum lantanoides Witch hobble, p. 321...

Sweet betsy purple toadshade

Description Erect perennial herb with 3 whorled, sessile, broadly ovate, mottled leaves from 3 to 6 in. long. A single sessile flower with 3 more or less erect purple, green, or yellow petals more than twice as long as stamens, the anthers blunt at tip. Fruit ovoid, mealy or pulpy, not juicy. Flowers early Mar.-Apr. fruits late May-June. Habitat range Moist woods, usually on calcium-rich soils derived from limestone. Rich cove forests, basic mesic forests, alluvial forests, and oak-hickory...

Catawba rhododendron

Description Evergreen thicket-forming shrub or small tree with a broad, rounded crown and large, showy clusters of deep pink to purple flowers at branch tips. Thick, leathery elliptical leaves, 3-6 in. long, rounded at base, blunt at tip. Fruit an elongate capsule, densely covered with reddish brown hairs with a persistent style at tip. Flowers Apr.-June fruits July-Oct. Habitat range Heath balds, high-elevation rock outcrops, spruce-fir forests, northern hardwood forests, and river bluff...

Minniebush

Description A 3-6 ft. tall shrub with alternate deciduous leaves with a characteristic, small whitish spur at leaf tip. Small, urn-shaped flowers in clusters, the corolla greenish white, often with a reddish tinge. Fruit a small, erect capsule on a long, slender stalk. Flowers May-July fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Heath balds, mountain bogs, high-elevation rock outcrops, and moist woodlands, mostly at high elevations. Common in mountains, rare in piedmont. Restricted to Appalachians, from...

Carolina phlox

Description An erect perennial up to 3 ft. tall with opposite, ovate-lanceolate to elliptical leaves 2-5 in. long. Lavender to pink tubular flowers up to 1 in. long with 5 spreading lobes, the stamens project beyond the glabrous corolla tube. Fruit a capsule. Flowers May-July. Habitat range Moist to dry forests, woodlands, and forest edges. Common. Widely distributed in eastern North America. Taxonomy The genus includes 70 species of herbs (and small shrubs) of temperate North America with 1...

Info

Spruce-fir forest can be distinguished from all other mountain communities in that red spruce or Fraser fir or a mix of the two dominates the canopy. Spruce-fir forest occurs along the Appalachian Mountains from Canada south to North Carolina and Tennessee. A band of similar forest (called boreal forest) circles the northern hemisphere at high latitudes, stretching from Alaska and Canada to Scandinavia, Russia, and China. Needle-leaved evergreen conifers are the dominant species in spruce-fir...

Turkeybeard beargrass

Description Dense clusters of long, slender, grass-like leaves form a basal rosette that remains green through winter. Flowering stems 2-5 ft. tall with small, needle-like leaves end in a showy white inflorescence, at first compact, later elongating up to 12 in. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule. Flowers May-June fruits July-Sept. Habitat range On dry, acidic ridges and slopes that burn periodically, including heath balds, pine-oak-heath, xeric oak-hickory forests. Uncommon. Occurs mainly in 3 disjunct...

Sweet shrub

Description A 3-6 ft. tall deciduous, aromatic shrub that forms dense thick ets from root sprouts. Leaves opposite, simple, oval to elliptical, 3-6 in. long with smooth margins. Twigs enlarged and flattened at nodes. Flowers showy, with numerous maroon to brown sepals and petals with a spicy fragrance. Leathery pod-like fruits, 1 -3 in. long, green in summer, dark brown to black in winter with large brown seeds. Flowers Mar.-June Fruits July-Sept. Habitat range Moist to somewhat dry forests and...

Rattlesnake orchid

Description Herbaceous perennial with 4-8 evergreen leaves in a basal rosette. Ovate leaves bluish green with a distinctive network of white veins and a broad white stripe down the midrib. Stout, hairy, flowering stalk up to 15 in. tall, the upper part densely packed with small, hairy white flowers with a sac-like lower lip. Fruit a small, erect capsule. Flowers June-Aug. Habitat range Wide variety of moist to dry coniferous and hardwood forests on acidic soils. Common. Eastern North America....

Blue ridge ragwort

Description Upright perennial herb 1-3 ft. tall with ribbed stems and patches of woolly hairs in leaf axils. Basal leaves up to 1 ft. long, deeply divided into many segments, each segment subdivided into many narrow segments giving the leaf a lacy texture stem leaves similar but progressively reduced up stem. Small, compact flower heads with yellow ray and disk flowers at tips of numerous branches arching upward near top of stem. Fruit a brown achene topped with white bristles. Flowers late...

Trailing arbutus

Description A ground-level, slightly woody evergreen plant with creeping reddish brown stems with ovate to oblong leathery leaves, 2-3 in. long. White to pink, fragrant flowers form small clusters, often concealed under leaves. Fruit a berry-like capsule. Flowers Feb.-May fruits Apr.-June. Habitat range Found in variety of dry to somewhat moist habitats with acidic soils, including pine-oak-heath, heath balds, and forest edges. Common. Widespread in eastern North America. Taxonomy A genus of 3...

Appalachian dodder

Convolvulaceae (Morning Glory family) Description Slender, leafless, bright orange or yellow twining parasitic vine with small, tubular, white flowers. Fruit a small capsule with 4 tiny seeds. Flowers Aug.-Sept. fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range High-elevation hardwood forests, grassy balds, and heath balds. Common. Appalachian Mountains from Maryland south to Georgia. Taxonomy Ten of the more than 150 species in the genus occur in the mountains and piedmont. Flowers are needed to distinguish...

Whorled coreopsis

Description Upright perennial herb 20-40 in. tall with opposite, sessile compound leaves, each consisting of 3 narrow leaflets, giving the appearance of 6 leaves in a whorl. Flowers in flat-topped heads with 7 or more, bright yellow ray flowers surrounding yellow (purplish with age) disk flowers. Fruit a flat-curved achene. Flowers June-Aug. Habitat range Dry oak-hickory forests, woodlands, forest edges, fields, and roadsides. Common. Eastern and central United States. Taxonomy A genus of about...

Allegheny blackberry

Description A non-woody thicket-forming shrub with erect or arching stems. Young stems reddish to purplish, covered with glandular hairs (at least near tip) with many large thorns. Leaves palmately compound, mostly with 5 leaflets, serrated margins, and prick les on petioles. Showy white flowers in elongated clusters mature into berry-like aggregates of black drupelets containing single seeds. Flowers May-June fruits July-Aug. Habitat range Occurs mostly in open woods and thickets at high...

Relict trillium

Trilliaceae (Trillium family) Federally Endangered Description Perennial herb with a short, curved, hairless stem and a single sessile flower in the center of a whorl of 3 strongly mottled leaves with a silvery streak down the middle of each leaf, the leaves positioned on or near the ground surface. Flowers emit a foul carrion odor the 3 upright petals range in color from dark purple to yellow. Fruit a fleshy capsule. Flowers Mar.-Apr. fruits May-early June. Habitat range Deep, loamy soils on...

Rich Cove Forest

Acer pensylvanicum Striped maple, p. 221 Acer saccharum Sugar maple, pp. 222-23 Carpinus caroliniana Ironwood, pp. 228-29 Cladrastis kentukea Yellowwood, pp. 234-35 Halesia tetraptera Carolina silverbell, p. 239 Calycanthus floridus Sweet shrub, pp. 275-76 Actaea pachypoda Doll's eyes, pp. 325-26 Actaea racemosa Black cohosh, pp. 326-27 Adiantum pedatum Maidenhair fern, p. 327 Anemone quinquefolia Wood anemone, p. 333 Arisaema triphyllum Jack-in-the-pulpit, p. 335 Asarum canadense Wild ginger,...

Beaked hazelnut

Description A dense thicket-forming shrub with coarsely toothed oval leaves, rounded or heart-shaped at base, long-pointed at tip. Wind-pollinated flowers appear in winter, long before the leaves emerge in spring. Fruit an edible brown nut enclosed within 2 leafy bracts that form a long, protruding, tube-like beak. Flowers Feb.-Mar. fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Forms dense thickets in dry rocky woodlands, high-elevation forests, and clearings, including red oak forests, chestnut oak forests,...

Mountain oat grass

Description A perennial bunchgrass with mostly basal leaves. Culms (flowering stems) slender, compressed, sometimes lying on the ground with the tip curved upward. Inflorescence with slender branches bearing 2-3 spikelets. Flowers June-Aug. Habitat range Grassy balds, rock outcrops, red oak forests, and chestnut oak forests. Common in mountains, less so in upper piedmont. Southeastern Canada and New England, south in the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia. Taxonomy Danthonia is a genus of about...

Christmas fern

Description Evergreen fern with pinnate fronds from a stout, creeping rhizome, often forming circular arching clumps, 12-24 in. tall, leaflets (pinnules) resemble a Christmas stocking or sleigh. Spore clusters (sori) often cover underside of fertile leaflets near tips of fronds. Spores dispersed June-Sept. Habitat range Moist to dry forests and woodlands, including cove forests, river bluff forests, and floodplain forests. Common. Widely distributed in eastern North America. Taxonomy The genus...

Oconee bells

Description Low evergreen herb spreading by short shallow runners, forming dense clumps of shiny circular leaves, often purple-tinged, with prominent pale veins and long petioles. Solitary, white flowers with 5 separate petals toothed at apex, resembling a nodding bell. Fruit a small capsule with numerous tiny seeds. Flowers Mar.-Apr. fruits Habitat range Moist, humid slopes and creek banks usually in deep shade beneath rosebay (Rhododendron maximum) or mountain laurel (Kalmia latifo-lia). A...

Witch hobble hobblebush

Description A sprawling deciduous shrub up to 10 ft. tall with broadly ovate to heart-shaped opposite leaves, coarsely textured, with sunken veins and toothed margins. Inflorescence a large, flat-topped, terminal cluster about 4 in. wide, with many small whit ish to pink fertile flowers surrounded by a ring of larger showy, sterile flowers. Small, berry-like drupes change color from greenish red to purplish black as they ripen. Flowers May-June fruits Aug.-Sept. Habitat range Cool, moist woods,...

Purple gerardia

Description Slender-stemmed, branching annual with dark green or purplish opposite linear leaves, 1-2 in. long, with a prominent midvein. Pink to purplish tubular flowers with 5 spreading lobes, the throat hairy within and striped with yellow. Fruit a small, roundish capsule. Flowers Aug.-frost fruits Sept.-Nov. Habitat range Moist openings, including roadsides, fields, woodlands, and mountain bogs. Common in piedmont, less so in mountains. Widely distributed in eastern United States. Taxonomy...

Carolina lily

Description Glabrous perennial 2-4 ft. tall with a stout, erect stem from a scaly bulb. Leaves widest at or above middle, becoming progressively smaller up stem, mostly in whorls of 3-7. Large, nodding flowers at top of stem, the flower segments strongly recurved, orange-red, becoming yellow in the throat with numerous purple spots. Upright green capsules turn brown and split into 3 segments when ripe. Flowers June-Aug. fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Dry upland forests, ridges, and upper...

Skunk cabbage

Skunk Cabbage Temperature

Description Herbaceous perennial 1-2 ft. tall with basal, cabbage-like leaves 10-20 in. long and almost as wide, emerging in late spring, well after the flowers. Fleshy, hood-like spathe, brownish purple, usually striped or spotted, encloses a ball-like spadix with numerous tiny flowers. Numerous seeds embedded just below surface of enlarged spongy spadix. Flowers Jan.-Mar. fruits July-Sept. Habitat range Mountain bogs. Common in Virginia, rare in North Carolina and Tennessee. Widely...

Elf orpine

Description A diminutive annual 1-3 in. tall with reddish semisucculent stems and leaves and small white flowers in flat-topped clusters. Fruit a cluster of 4 erect follicles. Flowers Apr.-May fruits May-June. Habitat range Grows in very thin soils on seasonally wet rock outcrop depressions. Common on piedmont outcrops, uncommon in mountains. From Virginia south to Georgia. Taxonomy This is the only species in the genus. Puck's orpine (Sedum pusillum) is similar but typically has green (rather...

Fairywand devils bit

Description Perennial herb with a basal rosette of leaves and a single flowering stalk with either male or female flowers. Large spoon-shaped leaves at base of plant, stem leaves much smaller, reduced upward. Numerous small white flowers in a 3-9 in. long spike, male flowers turn yellowish as pollen matures. Fruit a 3-celled capsule. Flowers Mar.-May fruits Sept.-Nov. Habitat range Variety of upland and lowland forests, including river bluff forests, oak-hickory forests, cove forests, and...

Schweinitzs sunflower

Asteraceae (Sunflower family) Federally Endangered Description Upright perennial herb usually 3-6 ft. tall but can reach heights of 10 ft. Lance-shaped leaves opposite on lower stem, changing to alternate above, gradually reduced upwards, rough like sandpaper on upper surface, velvety smooth on lower surface. Flower heads less than 2 in. across with yellow ray and disk flowers. Fruit a dark brown nutlet. Flowers late Aug.-Sept. Habitat range Glades in xeric hardpan forests, mowed power line...

Wake robin stinking willie

The specific epithet erectum refers to the erect flower stalk, while the common name stinking Willie refers to the odor of the flowers, which has been described as smelling like a wet dog. Ecology The fetid flower odor attracts various kinds of flies and beetles, which function as pollinators. In some populations and in some years, the flowers are visited infrequently and fruit set is low. When fruit set fails, the aerial stem (and leaves) quickly senesce. In contrast, stems with a developing...

Hop hornbeam

Description A small deciduous tree with brown, furrowed, shredding bark (young trees have smooth bark). Leaves simple, alternate, oval in shape with doubly serrate margins and long, pointed tips. Tiny male and female flowers borne on separate catkins on the same tree. Fruit a distinctive conelike cluster of 10-20 inflated paper sacs, each enclosing a tiny flattened seed (nutlet). The sacs resemble hops, hence the common name. Flowers Apr.-May fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Moist to dry woods,...

Horse sugar sweetleaf

Description A tardily deciduous shrub or small tree up to 30 ft. tall with a smooth to slightly furrowed gray to light brown bark, often with small, warty outgrowths. Leaves alternate, leathery, dark green above, sometimes tinged with purple, 2-4 in. long, margins minutely serrate, pointed at tip, wedge-shaped at base, often crowded towards stem tip. Flowers fragrant, cream to yellow with long stamens in dense showy clusters that open before the new leaves emerge. Fruit cylindrical, green when...

Mountain sweet pepperbush

Description Multistemmed shrub or small tree with cinnamon-like, reddish brown, smooth to peeling bark. Alternate deciduous leaves up to 8 in. long, mostly clustered toward stem tips, elliptic to oblong, long-pointed at tip, with finely serrate margins. Fragrant white flowers in terminal racemes develop into small, hairy capsules in upright clusters that persist through winter. Flowers July-Aug. fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Mostly on rich, moist, acidic soils at high elevations. Heath balds,...

Shagbark hickory

Description Medium to large deciduous tree, with bark forming long strips that curl outward at each end, giving mature trees a conspicuously shaggy appear ance. Pinnately compound leaves with 5 (sometimes 7) leaflets. Male flowers in drooping catkins, female flowers inconspicuous. Fruit a nearly round nut with a thick husk that splits to the base. Flowers May fruits Oct. Habitat range Alluvial forests, moist slopes, occasionally on dry upland flats. Uncommon. Widespread in eastern North...

Resurrection fern

Description Evergreen epiphytic fern with long, creeping, much-branched stolons. Leaves (fronds) 2-7 in. long, borne singly along the rhizome, dark green and smooth above, densely scaly and silvery brown below. Spore clusters (sori) lack a cover (indusium) and occur near margins of leaflets (pinnae), June-Oct. Habitat range On tree limbs and crotches of large trees with a deeply grooved bark and on rocks (usually limestone or sandstone). Common. Eastern United States, south to Mexico and...

The Mountains

The plant communities presented in this book pertain most closely to the eastern portion of the southern Appalachians, including southwestern Virginia, western North Carolina, northwestern South Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and northern Georgia. However, many of the species profiled are widely distributed in the mountains (and beyond), including in the three physiographic provinces described below. Elevations vary from about 1,000 ft. at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains to numerous peaks...

Pineoakheath

Dense heath shrubs beneath a somewhat stunted canopy of pines and dry-site oaks characterize the pine-oak-heath community. Pine-oak-heath occurs on exposed ridges and slopes in the mountains and upper piedmont on dry, nutrient-poor, acidic soils. Stunted pines and drought-tolerant oaks and a dense layer of heath shrubs dominate the vegetation. Herbaceous plants are sparse and overall plant diversity is low. On most sites, fire suppression has increased the density of heath shrubs and allowed...

Fraser fir

Description Small to medium-sized evergreen tree with erect cones and flat needle-like leaves, shiny green above, whitish below. Nearly smooth gray or brown bark has numerous resin blisters, often with a dense cover of lichens and mosses. Female cones mostly in top few feet of crown and on outer ends of branches seeds shed Sept.-Nov. Habitat range Cool, moist sites at high elevations (above 5,000 ft.) on shallow, rocky, acidic soils. Spruce-fir forests and balds. Uncommon but locally dominant....

Pinkshell azalea

Description A deciduous shrub up to 15 ft. tall with erect branches and a shallow root system. Leaves alternate, elliptical, 1 -5 in. long, widest near middle, tapering to a pointed tip. Deep pink funnel-shaped flowers, with slender, exerted stamens and style and a short (one-quarter in. long) corolla tube. Flowers emerge before the leaves unfold. Fruit a narrowly oblong capsule. Flowers May-June fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range High-elevation rock outcrops, heath balds, mountain bogs, and...

Chinese privet

Description Thicket-forming evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub with opposite, mostly elliptical leaves on short stalks. Numerous fragrant, small white flowers in terminal and axillary clusters form berry-like drupes, pale green in summer, bluish black in fall. Flowers Apr.-June fruits Sept.-Nov., persisting through winter. Habitat range Moist forests and thickets, including alluvial forests, forest edges, fields, home sites, borders of rock outcrops, disturbed areas. Common. Naturalized...

Understanding Natural Communities

An ecological community is an assemblage of plants, animals, and other organisms living together at the same place and time. Species aren't isolated entities but interact with each other in intricate ways. Co-occurring plants compete with each other for light, water, nutrients, and space. Animals interact with plants by pollinating their flowers, dispersing their seeds, and grazing on their tissues. For many nature enthusiasts, the enjoyment of native plants isn't just a celebration of their...

Mountain doghobble

Description Sprawling evergreen shrub to 5 ft. tall with arching branches and alternate leathery leaves 3-6 in. long, pointed at tip with sharply toothed margins. White urn-shaped flowers in dense drooping clusters (racemes) from leaf axils. Fruit a persistent capsule with many tiny seeds. Flowers Apr.-May fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Moist, acidic soils usually along streams and in ravines, including rocky streamsides and acidic cove forests. Common in mountains, rare in upper piedmont. A...

Table mountain pine

Description A small to medium-sized tree with a straight to crooked trunk, stout branches, and a round to flattened crown. The rigid, sharp-pointed, twisted needles occur in groups of 2. Seed cones sessile, broadly egg-shaped, about 3 in. long with sharp upward-curved prickles, mature Sept.-Oct. and persist on tree for many years. Habitat range Open forests on dry ridges, cliffs, and steep southwest-facing slopes, mostly at elevations between 1,000 and 4,000 ft., but as high as 5,800 ft. Common...

Showy orchis

Description A low-growing orchid with 2 large, rather fleshy basal leaves and a single stout flower stalk with 2-12 colorful flowers in a loose raceme. Pink to lavender flowers with 2 lateral petals and 3 sepals, converging to form a hood with a third (lower) petal forming a white lip with a prominent nectar spur. Fruit an erect capsule with thousands of dust-like seeds. Flowers Apr.-May, fruits May-June. Habitat range Rich mesic or calcareous woodlands, often at base of slopes and near...

American ginseng sang

Description Perennial herb 8-24 in. tall with a solitary stem bearing 1-4 pal-mately compound leaves, each with 3-5 leaflets. Small greenish white flowers in a single terminal umbel. Red berry-like drupes form a compact round cluster. Flowers May-June fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Rich, mesic deciduous forests, including cove forests, northern hardwood forests, and basic mesic forests. Once common throughout much of eastern North America, now increasingly rare. Taxonomy The genus Panax...

Appalachian gooseberry

Description Small to medium, erect or spreading shrub 2-5 ft. tall, short spines present or absent at nodes with finely peeling bark. Leaves alternate, simple, deciduous, roundish in general outline, 1-2 in. across, palmately veined and lobed. The small flowers occur singly or in clusters of 2-3 with green to reddish sepals and white to pinkish petals with protruding stamens. Smooth, round, edible berries contain numerous seeds. Flowers Apr.-May fruits June-Sept. Habitat range Moist woods and...

Tall bellflower

Description An erect annual or biennial 2-6 ft. tall. Alternate, lanceolate leaves with toothed margins terminate in a loose spike of pale blue flowers with a flat (rather than bell-shaped) corolla and a long, curved style. Fruit a capsule with numerous small seeds. Flowers late June-frost fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Moist forests and streambanks, especially over mafic or calcareous rocks. Rich cove forests, rocky streamsides, and basic mesic forests. Common in mountains, uncommon in...

Virginia pine

Description A small to medium-sized tree, often scrubby in appearance due to its persistent dead lower branches. Needles in bundles of 2, short, twisted, rather stiff. Seed cones small with slender, sharp prickles, opening at maturity to release seeds but cones remaining on tree for years. Pollen released Mar.-May seeds mature Sept.-Nov. Habitat range Dry forests and woodlands, especially on slopes, ridges, and abandoned fields, including oak-hickory forests, chestnut oak forests, xeric hardpan...

Prairie dock

Description Herbaceous perennial with 1 or more upright stems from 3 to 10 ft. tall with large (up to 1 ft. wide), mostly basal leaves with heart-shaped bases on long stalks. Flowering stems with few, very small leaves and numerous large heads (2-4 in. wide) with yellow ray and disk flowers. Fruit a winged achene. Flowers July-Sept. Habitat range Glades in xeric hardpan forests, barrens, woodlands, and roadsides. Rare. Southern Canada south to Georgia and Mississippi. Taxonomy A genus of 20...

Joe pye weed

Description Multistemmed perennial 3-10 ft. tall, smooth, purplish, mostly hollow stems with vanilla odor. Leaves in whorls of 3-7, lanceolate, 4-12 in. long. Flowers in large, round-topped, showy pink to purplish clumps. Fruit a black achene topped with bristles. Flowers July-Oct. fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Moist to wet areas, including rocky streamsides, mountain bogs, forest edges, and roadsides. Common. Widespread in eastern and central United States. Taxonomy The genus Eutrochium...

Devils walkingstick

Description An erect deciduous shrub or small tree with sharp pointed prickles on the trunk, branches, and leaves. The large (up to 4 ft. long and 2-3 ft. wide), highly divided leaves can have as many as 100 leaflets. Small, greenish white flowers in large, showy, terminal clusters 2-4 ft. long develop into purple-black juicy fruits in large, drooping clusters. Flowers June-Sept. fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Moist to dry woods, along streams and bottomlands, forest edges, and road banks....

Rocky Streamside

Platanus occidentals Sycamore, p. 253 Alnus serrulata Tag alder, pp. 269-70 Arundinaria gigantea Giant cane, pp. 273-74 Calycanthus floridus Sweet shrub, pp. 275-76 Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush, p. 278 Mountain sweet pepperbush, pp. 278-79 Kalmia latifolia Mountain laurel, pp. 291-92 Leucothoe fontanesiana Mountain doghobble, p. 292 Rhododendron arborescens Sweet azalea, p. 300 Rhododendron maximum Rosebay, pp. 302-3 Rhododendron periclymenoides Wild azalea, p. 304 Rhododendron viscosum...

Sassafras

Description Small to medium-sized deciduous tree with dark green twigs on young branches. Leaves variable in size and form with distinctive 2-lobed, 3-lobed, or unlobed margins. Male and female flowers on separate plants appear before the leaves emerge. Fruit a dark blue drupe on a red club-shaped stalk. Flowers Mar.-Apr. fruits June-July. Habitat range Wide variety of forests, fields, and woodland borders. Common. Widespread in eastern United States. Taxonomy Sassafras is a genus of 3 species,...

Shooting star

Description Smooth perennial herb with a basal rosette of mostly oblanceo- late leaves 4-10 in. long. Flower stalk to 18 in. tall with a cluster of nodding, white flowers at tip. The unusual flowers consist of 5 petals swept backward with 5 fused stamens protruding forward, forming a pointed beak. Fruit an elliptic capsule that splits open at tip when ripe. Flowers late Mar.-early June fruits late May-June. Habitat range Rich, moist wooded slopes often associated with high-calcium soils,...

Pignut hickory

Description A medium-sized deciduous tree with alternate pinnately compound leaves with 5 (sometimes 7) leaflets, the leaflets and rachis glabrous, the foliage fragrant when crushed. Yellowish green male flowers in drooping catkins, female flowers inconspicuous in small, erect clusters at shoot tips. Nut roundish to egg- or pear-shaped, about 1 in. long with a thick husk, turning brown to brownish black while ripening. Flowers Apr.-May fruits Oct. Habitat range Dry to moist woods, including...

American chestnut

Description A large deciduous tree, once abundant in mountains, now persists mostly as multistemmed sprouts up to 30 ft. tall. Leaves green and glabrous on both sides, 6-11 in. long, tapering to a pointed tip, each lateral vein ending in a curved, bristle-tipped tooth. Large spiny fruits enclose 2-3 flattened nuts. Flowers June-July fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Mesic to xeric forests on well-drained soils, including red oak forests, northern hardwood forests, cove forests, chestnut oak...

Trumpet vine

Description Fast-growing, high-climbing woody vine with straw-colored stems and opposite, pinnately compound leaves with 7-15 leaflets. The 3-4 in. long, trumpet-shaped, orange-red flowers readily distinguish this species. The long, narrow, pod-like capsules often hang on the vine through winter. Flowers June-July fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Alluvial forests, woodlands, fencerows, roadsides, fields, and disturbed areas. Common. Most of eastern United States. Taxonomy A member of a mostly...

Miccosukee gooseberry

Grossulariaceae (Currant family) Federally Threatened Description Low-growing spiny shrub with shredding bark and alternate, pal-mately lobed leaves. Greenish flowers with 5 small petals, 5 spreading sepals, and long, exerted stamens. Fruit a spiny berry. Flowers Mar.-Apr. fruits June-Sept. Habitat range Basic mesic forest. Very rare, but locally abundant at a single site in the piedmont (Stephens Creek, McCormick County, South Carolina). Its only other known location is near Lake Miccosukee...

Eastern redbud

Description Small understory tree with broad, heart-shaped, palmately-veined leaves and pea-shaped, purplish pink flowers borne on leafless twigs in early spring. Fruit a flat, thin pod, 2-4 in. long. Flowers Mar.-May fruits June-Nov., persisting into winter. Habitat range Moist to dry forests and woodlands, often on calcareous soils. Basic mesic forests, oak-hickory forests, river bluff forests, alluvial forests, and xeric hardpan forests. Common in piedmont, less so in mountains. Widespread...

Goats rue

Description Densely hairy perennial herb 1-2 ft. tall with 1 to several stems with alternate, pinnately compound leaves, the 15-25 narrow leaflets about 1 in. long. Short terminal racemes of bicolored pea-like flowers consisting of a large creamy yellow upper petal (the standard), pink to rose lateral petals (the wings), and 2 fused lower petals (the keel). Fruit a 1-2 in. long, soft, hairy pod. Flowers May-June fruits July-Oct. Habitat range Dry, open woods, including pine-oak-heath,...

Smooth rock tripe

Umbilicariaceae (Umbilicaria family) Description Large leathery lichen with a smooth (but not shiny) upper surface typically 2-6 in. across, reddish brown to grayish brown, the underside pitch black. Like other members of genus, it's attached to substrate by a thin central holdfast. The cup-shaped fruiting bodies (within which the spores are produced) rarely present. Habitat range On boulders and steep rock walls in forests and open areas at higher elevations. Occasional. From southern Canada...

Rock alumroot crag jangle

Description Perennial herb 8-36 in. tall, the maple-like basal leaves 2-6 in. long and wide, palmately lobed with 5-7 sharp lobes. Tiny pink to white flowers occur in dense clusters that terminate a leafless, hairy stalk that extends well above the basal leaves. Fruit a capsule with tiny dark red seeds. Flowers June-Oct. fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range High-elevation rock outcrops. Common in mountains, rare in upper piedmont. Virginia south to Georgia, primarily in Blue Ridge Mountains. Taxonomy...

Carrion flower

Description Herbaceous perennial vine 3-9 ft. long that climbs with threadlike tendrils. Leaves ovate to round, 2-5 in. long, with smooth margins. Numerous yellow-green clusters (umbels) of malodorous male and female flowers on separate plants. Dark blue-black berries in dense round clusters on long stalks. Flowers May-June fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Moist deciduous forests, thickets, meadows, and roadsides. Common in mountains and piedmont. Southeastern Canada south to Georgia. Taxonomy...

New york ironweed

Description Perennial herb 3-7 ft. tall. Stems with numerous alternate, lanceolate leaves, 4-8 in. long. A half dozen or more flower heads in flat-topped clusters, each head with 30-50 deep purple-violet disk flowers, ray flowers absent, green leafy bracts with long, slender tips enclose base of each head. Fruit a ribbed achene with dark brown to purple hair-like bristles. Flowers July-Sept. fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Low woods and moist openings, including rocky streamsides, roadsides, and...

Indian cucumber root

Description Erect herbaceous perennial 12-30 in. tall, with woolly tufts of hairs on stem. Vegetative plants have a single whorl of 5-11 leaves flowering plants have a second upper whorl of 3 smaller leaves. Several yellowish green flowers hang beneath the upper whorl of leaves with 6 recurved, petal-like structures and 3 long, brown stigmas conspicuously curved outward. Fruit a round, dark purple-black berry. Flowers Apr.-June fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Moist forests, including acidic...

Yellow ladys slipper

Description Showy perennial herb 8-32 in. tall with a hairy stem and 3-5 alternate, mostly sheathing stem leaves from 2 to 8 in. long and half as wide with parallel, raised veins. One or 2 terminal flowers each with 2 long, twisted, purplish brown lateral petals, 3 wavy-edged sepals (the lower 2 fused into 1), and a lower petal that forms a yellow pouch streaked or spotted with purple (known as the lady's slipper). Fruit an elliptic capsule. Flowers Apr.-June fruits May-July. including rich...

Acidic cove forest

Acidic cove forest is similar to rich cove forest but has more acidic soils with a dense layer of heath shrubs and a much lower diversity of trees and herbaceous species. Acidic cove forest occurs on moist, sheltered sites such as narrow, rocky gorges, steep ravines, and lower slopes and ridges within coves. The terrain is often rugged, with steep slopes, boulders, fallen logs, and stumps. Ephemeral creeks, seeps, and springs often dot the landscape. Underlain by quartzite, granite, or other...

Carolina spring beauty

Description A short succulent perennial arising from a corm in early spring. A single pair of opposite leaves with distinct petioles occurs below a loose terminal raceme of showy white or pinkish flowers with 5 pink-veined petals. Fruit an ovoid capsule with shiny black seeds. Flowers Mar.-May. Habitat range Moist forests at moderate to high elevations. Northern hardwood forests and rich cove forests. Common. A northern species extending south in the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia. Taxonomy A...

Ramps wild leek

Description Bulb-forming spring ephemeral with large flat leaves, 1-2 in. wide and 6-12 in. long with a reddish stalk and strong onion odor. Tiny pale yellow to cream-colored, bell-shaped flowers in hemispherical clusters (umbels). Fruit a 3-lobed capsule with shiny black seeds. Flowers June-July fruits Aug.-Sept. Habitat range Rich, moist woods, including cove and northern hardwood forests. Common in mountains. Widely distributed in eastern North America. Taxonomy The genus Allium is widely...

Basic mesic forest

Mesophytic (moisture-loving) trees such as tulip tree, American beech, and northern red oak and an extremely species-rich and abundant herbaceous layer characterize basic mesic forest. Basic mesic forest is one of the most species-rich communities in the Southeast. A key factor contributing to this diversity is its moist, relatively basic soil. A high concentration of bases, especially calcium and magnesium, makes the soil pH of basic mesic forest higher than that of most piedmont soils. The...

Large flower heartleaf wild ginger

Description Low-growing, stemless herbaceous perennial with heart-shaped to round evergreen leaves 2-4 in long, often with light green or white along veins. Flower a brown urn-shaped calyx up to in. long, wide at bottom, constricted at top with 3 large, spreading lobes mottled with purple. Fruit a fleshy capsule. Flowers May-July. Habitat range Often under rosebay (Rhododendron maximum) along creeks in acidic cove forests. Common in mountains, uncommon in piedmont. Restricted to southern...

The Piedmont

Millions of years of erosion have lowered and smoothed the former mountains of the piedmont, creating an undulating landscape of gently rolling hills and valleys dissected by rivers and streams. Bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and the coastal plain to the east, the piedmont province stretches from New Jersey to central Alabama. Relatively narrow in the north, the piedmont is best developed in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia where its maximum width varies from 100 to nearly...

Lousewort wood betony

Description Upright, hairy, herbaceous perennial 6-16 in. tall. Forms dense colonies from short rhizomes. Lower leaves in basal cluster, stem leaves alternate, reduced in size upward, blades deeply divided into toothed segments, fern-like. Flowers sessile in dense terminal heads with small, leaf-like bracts and a 2-lipped corolla, the hood-like upper lip arches over a 3-lobed lower lip, forming a tube-like corolla, yellow to reddish brown. Fruit a flattened capsule. Flowers Apr.-May fruits...

Spray cliff

The spray cliff community is readily identified by the presence of a waterfall. Introduction Fast-flowing water splashing over rocks as it cascades down a cliff enhances the appeal of this community. Spray cliffs occur on vertical to gently sloping rock faces that are constantly wet from the spray of waterfalls, sometimes supplemented by seepage water. The numerous ledges, crevices, and other protected niches near waterfalls provide an unusually equable environment as the substrate is always...

Whorled aster

Description Perennial herb 8-15 in. tall with large, closely crowded leaves on upper part of stem. About 15 white to pinkish ray flowers surround central yellow or red disk flowers within a head. Flowers July-Sept. fruits Aug.-Sept. Habitat range Cool, moist woods, mountain seeps, and streambanks at mid- to high elevations. Spruce-fir forests, northern hardwood forests, and red oak forests. Common. Northeastern United States and Canada, south to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Taxonomy...

Indian pipe ghost flower

Description Waxy-white (rarely pink), fleshy, perennial herb with 2-8 in. tall clusters of stems that turn black with age. Tiny, scale-like leaves the same color as stem. Solitary flowers at end of stem, narrowly bell-shaped, nodding. Fruit an erect capsule. Flowers June-Oct. fruits Aug.-Nov. Habitat range Occurs in wide variety of forests, always in shade, never in open areas receiving direct sunlight. Common. Americas and eastern Asia. Taxonomy A genus of 2 species, both lack chlorophyll and...

Oakhickory forest

A mixture of oaks and hickories characterizes this community. White oak is often the most common canopy tree. Oak-hickory forest consists of a mixture of oaks (Quercus) and hickories (Carya). Because pines are often common (particularly on disturbed sites), this community is sometimes referred to as oak-hickory-pine forest. While oaks and hickories generally grow in dry, well-drained habitats, they can also occur on relatively moist lower slopes and upland flats. Often associated with acidic...

Granite outcrop

Piedmont granite outcrops are characterized by smooth (exfoliating) rock with scattered vegetation mats on shallow soils dominated by herbaceous plants. Scattered across the piedmont are islands of exposed rock that vary in size, shape, and topography. Most occur on granite (or gneissic rocks) that have a smooth exfoliating (peeling) surface that weathers unevenly, resulting in shallow depressions that accumulate soil and provide habitat for an interesting assemblage of plants. Granite outcrops...

Yellowfringed orchid

Description An upright perennial herb 1-3 ft. tall with alternate, lanceolate lower leaves 2-8 in. long, reduced to bracts above. Flowers bright yellow to deep orange with a deeply fringed lip petal and a long nectar spur. Fruit an elongate capsule with numerous dust-like seeds. Flowers July-Sept. Habitat range Occurs mainly in open to lightly wooded, moist sites, including bogs, seepage slopes, meadows, roadbanks, and forest edges. Fairly common in mountains, rare in piedmont. Widespread in...

How to Use This Field Guide

If you know the common name or scientific name of a species, refer to the index to find the page number where the species is described and illustrated by a photograph. 2. To identify an unfamiliar plant, turn to the photo key (Part II). This pictorial guide presents thumbnail photos of representative species arranged by plant community, including the corresponding page number for the species description. Choose the community that most closely fits the plant's surroundings. If you don't see the...

Frasers sedge

Description Evergreen herbaceous perennial forms dense clumps of strap-shaped leathery leaves 8-20 in. long and 1-2 in. wide with wavy margins and prominent, parallel veins that arise from a short, thick rhizome. Flower stalks 4-16 in. tall with a terminal spike up to 1 in. long, white and showy, with male flowers at tip, female flowers below. Fruit a single dry seed (achene) enclosed within an inflated sac (perigynium), about 20-30 fruit sacs per spike. Flowers Apr.-June fruits May-July....

Silky dogwood

Description Multistemmed deciduous shrub to about 15 ft. tall, the twigs dark red with dense rusty or silky gray hairs. Leaves opposite, 2-4 in. long, pointed at apex, green and glabrous above, with parallel curved veins. Small, white flowers in flat-topped clusters about 2 in. across. Fruit a berry-like drupe, bluish with white blotches. Flowers May-June fruits Aug.-Sept. Habitat range Moist to wet woods and streambanks, including alluvial forests and borders of swamps. Common. Eastern United...

Grassy bald

Grassy balds are distinguished from other communities by their extensive areas of dense herbaceous vegetation at high elevations. Areas invaded by shrubs or small trees are generally considered to be grassy balds however, if the herbaceous layer is largely absent, then the term shrub bald is used. Grassy balds are open, meadow-like areas with patches of shrubs and small trees that occur on high-elevation ridgetops, domes, and gentle slopes. Like most high-elevation habitats, grassy balds are...

Painted buckeye

Description Shrub or small deciduous tree 3-16 ft. tall with palmately compound leaves with 5 (rarely 7) leaflets. Yellowish green, cream, pink, or red petals form a tubular corolla. Fruit a light brown leathery pod with 1-3 large, shiny brown seeds. Flowers Mar.-May fruits July-Aug. Habitat range Mesic, nutrient-rich forests, including cove forests, alluvial forests, basic mesic forests, and river-banks. Common in piedmont and low mountains. From Virginia south to Georgia. Taxonomy A genus of...

Gorge rhododendron punctatum

Description An evergreen shrub 3-10 ft. tall with thick, leathery elliptical leaves sharply pointed at apex, wedge-shaped at base with dense brown scales on the underside. The leaves curl up and hang down during times of drought and extreme cold. Flowers pink to white, often spotted with green, in terminal clusters. Fruit a 5-parted capsule. Flowers Apr.-June fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Streambanks, wooded slopes, high ridges, including high-elevation rock outcrops, acidic cove forests,...