A few weeks ago we heard from our long-ago college hiking buddy Steph Jeffries*, now a naturalist at Duke University, when she saw Palmetto Cove’s new facebook page.    She had just been in the area working on a field guide to the  southern Appalachians, and was planning to include several of our favorite Cove-area hikes in the book.

Jon jumped on the chance to quiz her about some mystery plants he’d seen on the trail lately.  Steph’s answers are at the bottom.

Mystery Plant #1 – Seen on the new section of campground trail that leads from the river to creek overlook:

Mystery Plant #2 – From the Pinnacle Mountain Trail:

And Mystery Plant #3, source of an argument.  Jon tells Steph, “There’s all kinds of poison ivy up on the Pinnacle Mountain Trail”. Steph says, “Really?? I wouldn’t have expected it growing so high up.  Are you sure?”  Jon e-mails her the evidence.  [Hint before you scroll down: the person with the PhD maybe knows something about her field . . .]

Stephanie writes:

The first one is mayapple, Podophyllum punctatum. Look for plants that have two leaves and then look underneath for the white flowers in mid-April (maybe earlier for SC) and the fruits after that. The second is pink lady’s slipper, an orchid, Cypripedium acaule. The third one is something in the pea family for sure, and I’d guess it’s either a vine called hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata) or a perennial called nakedflower ticktrefoil (Desmodium nudiflorum).

This is a great wildflower guide for SC, if you’re looking for one: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Wildflowers-South-Carolina/dp/1570034389

Thanks Steph!


*UPDATE: Steph sends me a proper bio, instead of the very light link I had up at first:

Stephanie Jeffries is a naturalist at heart and a forest ecologist by training. She has a Ph.D. in forestry from N.C. State, with minors in ecology and botany, and a B.S. in marine science from University of South Carolina. She has been a Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University since 2007, and has taught in a variety of settings, including the Highlands Biological Station, NC State, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, and the NC Botanical Garden. She has broad interests in plant conservation, forest dynamics and succession, and plant community ecology, as well as experiential and environmental education and service learning. She loves teaching outdoors and sharing the wonders of the natural world with students of all ages and backgrounds.