Roadside and Field

Diospyros virginiana Persimmon, p. 237 Juniperus virginiana Eastern red cedar, pp. 241-42 Liquidambar styraciflua Sweetgum, p. 242 Liriodendron tulipifera Tulip tree, pp. 242-43 Pinus virginiana Virginia pine, pp. 252-53 Prunus serotina Black cherry, pp. 254-55 Campsis radicans Trumpet vine, pp. 276-77 *Elaeagnus umbellata Autumn olive, pp. 282-83 *Ligustrum sinense Chinese privet, pp. 292-93 *Lonicera japonica Japanese honeysuckle, pp. 294-95 Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia creeper, pp....

Cutleaf coneflower

Description Highly branched perennial herb 3-8 ft. tall with alternate, deeply cut, 3-5 lobed lower leaves up to 8 in. long, the upper leaves reduced in size and less dissected. Flowers in long-stalked, showy heads, the central disk flowers greenish yellow with drooping yellow ray flowers. Fruit a 4-angled, brown achene. Flowers July-Oct. Habitat range Moist woodlands and forest edges, alluvial forests, and rocky streamsides. Common. Widely distributed in North America. Taxonomy This highly...

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

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,...

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....

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...

Swamp pink

Melanthiaceae (Bunchflower family) Federally Threatened Description Herbaceous perennial with a basal rosette of evergreen spatulate leaves, 4-8 in. long. Dense clusters of pink flowers with blue anthers at tip of long stalk with many small, scale-like leaves (bracts). Fruit a capsule. Flowers Apr.-May fruits June-July. Habitat range Usually under dense shrubs in wet, peaty soils. Mountain bogs and swamps. Rare. Loosely scattered in Blue Ridge Mountains from Virginia south to Georgia, and in...

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...

Bigleaf aster

Description Herbaceous perennial up to 4 ft. tall with very large, rough, heart-shaped basal leaves with saw-toothed margins, upper leaves oval to lance-shaped, reduced in size upward on stem. Pale purple ray flowers surround yellow disk flowers that become reddish with age. Fruit a brown nutlet. Flowers July-Sept. fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Moist to somewhat dry forests and woodlands, including red oak forests. Common in mountains. Eastern United States. Taxonomy Of the 250-300 species of...

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...

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...

Slippery elm

Description Medium-sized deciduous tree with alternate simple leaves 4-6 in. long, abruptly short to long-pointed at apex, usually asymmetrical at base, the upper surface very rough (like sandpaper) with doubly toothed leaf margins. Inconspicuous dark red flowers in dense clusters form round, flat-winged samaras before the leaves emerge. Flowers Feb.-Mar. fruits Mar.-Apr. Habitat range Moist forests on lower slopes, floodplains, occasionally on drier upland sites, particularly on limestone...

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,...

Highelevation red oak forest

High-elevation red oak forest differs from all other high-elevation forests in that northern red oak makes up 75 percent or more of the canopy. Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) grows as a canopy species in a variety of communities in the mountain and piedmont regions. While it shares dominance with other canopy species in most communities, northern red oak is the overwhelming dominant in some high mountain areas. High-elevation red oak forest occurs on dry to mesic slopes and ridgetops at...

Chestnut oak forest

Chestnut oak forest differs from all other mountain forest types by the dominance of chestnut oak or scarlet oak. Forests dominated by chestnut oak (Quercus montana) can be found in the coastal plain, the piedmont, and the mountains, but ecologists have traditionally limited the chestnut oak forest designation to low- to mid-elevation communities of the mountains and piedmont where American chestnut was the dominant or co-dominant canopy species prior to the chestnut blight in the early...

Highelevation rock outcrop

High-elevation rock outcrops differ from surrounding communities by having extensive areas of bare or lichen-covered rock scattered with herb-dominated mats on shallow soils. Trees are stunted and largely restricted to outcrop margins and crevices where deeper soils accumulate. Patches of shrubs are often present, but large areas dominated by shrubs are considered heath balds. High-elevation rock outcrops are differentiated from low-elevation rock outcrops not only by elevation (the boundary is...

Nodding ladies tresses

Description Perennial herb often in large colonies, with basal leaves 2-10 in. long, less than 1 in. wide, reduced in size up stem. Small, white, slightly nodding, generally fragrant flowers packed into a dense spiral spike. Fruit an elliptical capsule with numerous tiny, wind-dispersed seeds. Flowers July-frost fruits Aug.-frost. Habitat range Moist, open habitats, including mountain bogs, marshes, meadows, lawns, and ditches. Common in mountains, uncommon in piedmont. Widespread in eastern...

Cliff saxifrage

Description Perennial herb with a basal rosette of green to red, coarsely serrate leaves from 2 to 6 in. long, with an open inflorescence of white flowers with orange anthers. The upper 3 petals each with 2 yellow spots and the lower 2 unspotted petals readily distinguish this species when in bloom. Flowers Apr.-Aug. fruits June-Sept. Habitat range On moist to rather dry rock outcrops. Common in mountains, uncommon in piedmont. A southern Appalachian endemic from Virginia south to Georgia....

Northern hardwood forest

Northern hardwood forest can be distinguished from other high elevation forest types by the dominance of mesophytic canopy trees (American beech, yellow birch, yellow buckeye, and sugar maple) since other high mountain forest types generally have northern red oak, red spruce, or Fraser fir as canopy dominants. Northern hardwood forest occurs on medium- to high-elevation (generally over 4,000 ft.) slopes, coves, and flats, often on north-facing slopes. The soil is usually moist, due to high...

Monkey face orchid

Description Perennial herb with an erect stem up to 4 ft. tall with 2-3 large, lanceolate leaves on lower stem, reduced to several small, bract-like leaves near stem tip. Pure white flowers with a slight hood on top, a spoon-shaped lower lip with a slightly toothed margin, and a long, strongly curved nectar spur occur in a loosely flowered terminal cluster. Fruit an elliptic capsule. Flowers July-Sept. fruits Sept.-Oct. Habitat range Sphagnum bogs, red maple-black gum swamps, damp stream...

Alluvial forest

Alluvial forest in the piedmont and lower mountains is easily recognized by its location in floodplains and its characteristic species, such as sycamore, river birch, and box elder. Alluvial forest occurs along streams and rivers that seasonally or intermittently flood their banks. Alluvial forests vary in size from broad river valleys to narrow strips of streamside vegetation. The relatively small floodplain forests of the piedmont are called alluvial forests for the nutrient rich alluvium...

River bluff forest

A canopy dominated by American beech and other mesophytic trees on relatively cool, moist slopes and ravines characterizes river bluff forest. Oaks other than northern red oak are generally not well represented. River bluff forest (or beech forest, as it's sometimes called) occurs on steep north-facing river bluffs and sheltered ravines with acidic soils. A dense tree canopy, steep slopes, and a proximity to water result in a mesic environment characterized by low light intensity and relatively...

Cranefly orchid

Description A perennial with a single annual leaf arising from a small corm, dull green above, purple below, emerging in fall, withering and disappearing in mid-to late spring before flowering. Purplish green to brown flowers in loose racemes. Fruit a capsule. Flowers July-Sept. fruits Aug.-Sept. Habitat range Variety of moist to dry forests, usually on acidic soils. Common. Eastern United States. Taxonomy A genus of 3 species 1 in the eastern United States, the Himalayas, and Japan. The common...

Rich cove forest

You can recognize rich cove forest by its diverse mixture of moisture-loving trees and lush, species-rich herbaceous layer. Acidic cove forest, which occurs on similar sites, but with more acidic soils, has fewer tree species, a dense heath shrub layer, and a relatively sparse herbaceous layer. In narrow valleys, broad ravines, and concave slopes where the soil is rich, the climate mild, and rainfall abundant, one of the most species-rich communities in eastern North America occurs. Rich cove...

Heath bald

Heath balds differ from other higher-elevation communities by the dominance of heath shrubs, with only scattered, stunted trees and a sparse herbaceous layer. Rock outcrops commonly have patches of shrubs of the same species as those found on heath balds, making the distinction between the two communities difficult to see. If the community is predominately covered by shrubs, rather than bare rock or scattered herbs, it's considered a heath bald. Heath balds are dense shrublands that grow at...

Mountain bog

Mountain bogs are small, isolated wetlands with a wide range of herb-, shrub-and tree-dominated areas and significant amounts of peat moss (sphagnum). Mountain bogs are isolated wetlands surrounded by terrestrial communities. Bogs are inherently rare because flat or gently sloping wet sites are scarce in the southern Appalachians. Drainage, changes in grazing or mowing, and development have further reduced the number and extent of mountain bogs. Despite their small size and rarity, bogs have...

Southern bush honeysuckle

Diervillaceae (Bush honeysuckle family) Description Sprawling soft-wooded shrub 2-6 ft. tall. Leaves opposite, sessile, long-pointed at apex with rounded base, margins finely toothed, not ciliate. Small, yellow, mildly fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers occur in clusters at branch tips and in leaf axils. Fruit a slender, long-beaked, woody capsule, persisting into winter. Flowers June-Aug. fruits Aug.-Oct. Habitat range Rock outcrops, ridges, landslide scars, trail margins, other rocky open...

Xeric hardpan forest

Xeric hardpan forest can be distinguished from other piedmont forests by its fairly open canopy of stunted trees dominated by blackjack oak Quercus marilandica and post oak Q. stellata . Xeric hardpan forest occurs on upland flats and gentle slopes of the piedmont region where a clay hardpan or shallow rock layer impedes water movement and root growth. The scattered boulders and shallow rocks associated with this community are usually gabbro, a dark gray to black rock that contains calcium-rich...

Buffalo nut

Description A deciduous shrub to 10 ft. tall with highly branched, arching stems. Leaves alternate, simple, prominently veined, long-pointed at apex. Inflorescence an erect terminal spike with greenish, unisexual, apetalous flowers. Fruit a pear-shaped fleshy drupe about 1 in. long. Flowers Apr.-May fruits July-Oct. Habitat range Variety of moist to dry forests. Common. An Appalachian endemic, from Pennsylvania south to Georgia. Taxonomy Pyrularia is a genus of 4 species, 3 in east Asia, 1 in...

Bracken fern

Description Large triangular-shaped fronds emerge from a creeping underground stem, often forming dense colonies. Spore clusters sporangia occur as a continuous band along leaf margins, partly covered by rolled leaf edges, July-Sept. Habitat range Woodlands, forests, and fields, particularly on dry, acidic soils, including grassy and heath balds, chestnut oak forests, pine-oak-heath, oak-hickory forests, and forest edges. Common. Nearly worldwide distribution. Taxonomy The genus consists of a...