This exhibit provides a sample of the more attractive red flowering plants that can be found in Little River Canyon National Preserve. A more complete display of all flowering plants photographed for the Preserve is provided in the complete exhibit of " Plants of Little River Canyon National Preserve".
Mimosa is a non-native tree that produces pink flowers that appear from May to August. It is considered an invasive species in the United States and can be found in a wide variey of habitats that receive sunlight. The tree is allelopathic, and produces biochemicals that inhibit other plants from encroaching and competing with the tree's survival. Mimosa is particularly attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Butterfly Weed usually grows along roadsides and open areas. A mutual beneficial relationship exists between the Monarch Butterfly and Butterfly Weed. The butterfly pollinates the plant and passes on a cardiac glycoside to the butterfly that causes nausea and vomiting to any birds that consume the butterfly. Birds quickly learn to avoid eating the Monarch, enhancing the butterfly's survival.
Virginia Spring Beauty flowers in early spring from February to April. It produces white to pinkish flowers with noticeable pink veins. Habitat includes forests, lawns and roadsides. It is also commonly know as Wild Potato with the corms being collected and boiled in salt-water, tasting much like chestnuts
Orange Jewelweed produces an orange-yellow flower from May to November. The plant is found in wet woods, roadsides, streambanks and swamps. The seed has evolved an interesting seed dispersal technique where mature capsules explode elastically into five coiled sections, rocketing the seed to more distant areas. The juice from crushed leaves and stems is also used as a poultice to treat poison ivy.
Small-head Blazing Star produces lavender flowers from August to October. This plant has adapted to the extreme environment of sandstone outcrops on the Preserve, and is a characteristic plant of this rare plant community. Butterflies actively visit this plant during summer and fall months. The corms of this plant were also used as winter food by Native Americans.
Scaly Blazing Star produces pink to purple flowers from July to August. It is usually found in open woods and barren lands.
During historic times, blazing stars were major components of now vanished prairies. These species can be viewed as remnants of a previously more dominant prairie communities across the region.
Yellow Fringed Orchid is a beautiful orchid that produces bright orange flowers with long fringes extending from the lip petal. It flowers from July to September and is found in a variety of habitats, including fields, meadows and open woods. Native Americans made tea from the roots for treating headaches and diarrhea.
Pink Laurel is a leathery evergreen shrub with large showy clusters of purplish flowers that appear from April to June. Pink Laurel is a featured tourist attraction in the Southern Appalachian Mountains during spring Rhododendron blooms. This shrub can be found along ridges, bluffs and on moist rocky slopes.
Menge's Fameflower produces a rose red flower that appears between May and September. This plant is restricted to sandstone outcrops on the Preserve. It is able to survive in this extreme environment by storing water in its' succulent leaves and by opening its' flowers only for a few hours in bright sunlight each day.
Constructed, written and photography by Bill Garland