Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wildflower Walk, Tornadoes, and Mushroom Hunting

Wildflower Walk

Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) April 7, 2011

Last Thursday, I tagged along on a wildflower walk at Wildwood Park. Junior Naturalists (5th grade) were led by several of my Virginia Master Naturalist friends.

Dutchman's Breeches covered the steep hillside of the park which is right in the middle of the city of Radford, Virginia. I really would like to get some of these to put on my land so I'm looking for a source if you know of one.

It was good to see these children excited about wildflowers including wild ginger, bellwort, toothwort and bloodroot. Towards the end of the walk, I spotted one garlic mustard plant in the wildflowers and plucked it since I knew it could eventually take over. One girl asked me what it was and I explained about it being a very bad invasive plant. She wanted to know about it and so I explained how it smelled of garlic. The student asked me whether people ate it and I said that some people cooked it as a green. Then, she asked me if she could have it and I agreed as long as she destroyed it later. All the kids gathered around her and started tasting the leaves and laughing. That got the attention of the adults who scolded the kids for eating the plant. I was sorry I caused so much commotion.

At the entrance to the park is a waterfall which formed over the old quarry limestone.

Mushroom Hunting

It was been unusually warm with temperatures in the mid-80s. I thought after all the rain I would try to find the elusive morel mushroom which I have been searching for on our land.

The only mushrooms I saw were these rather small puffball-like mushrooms on a dead Virginia pine tree. They weren't fresh either. Perhaps it's too early or we really don't have morels on our land.

I will keep looking....

Tornadoes Nearby

Last Friday evening, I was watching TV and heard that there was a tornado warning for our county. The weather forecaster broke into scheduled broadcast and showed a scary radar screen. At that time, the storm was centered in Bland County but headed east for our county. A few minutes later, the severe storm took a detour south into Pulaski County instead of our way. The forecaster said it was likely a tornado as there was rotation. Two tornadoes touched down, destroying 400 structures. Miraculously, no one was hurt. Here's the Roanoke Times article. The tornadoes were the strongest on record for the New River Valley. In fact, tornadoes are rare because of the mountains. Last year, we had a 500 year flood so it makes me wonder why all this severe weather is happening.

On a lighter note, my dog Kookie always cracks me up when she picks the biggest log in the outdoor fireplace to carry around the yard. She loves spring too!


  1. Glad you were unharmed by the weather, but also so sorry for your/our neighbors in Pulaski. The photos are horrifying. Tornadoes are something that happens in Kansas, not Virginia.

    Thursday, April 21 Leonard Adkins is lecturing on his book "Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail" at LGBG here in Richmond. If you want to come and need a place to stay, we are about five minutes from the garden. Just let me know. Info at www.lewisginter.org - you have to RSVP. I have to work, but have plenty of space. (Ok, you would have to share with stuff for the yard sale!)

    Just let me know.

  2. webb--thanks for the offer but I can't come to Richmond. I actually saw Leonard Adkins at Mountain Lake Hotel two years ago. He was there to talk about his book while I did a presentation on nature journals and blogging. I use his other book "Wildlfowers of the Blue Ridge and Great Smokies" often as a reference.

    Tornadoes are rare here although we do get micro-bursts that can very damaging.

  3. Lovely wildflowers! Those tornadoes were definitely scary.

  4. Appalachian Lady~~Thank you for the name of that beautiful white blooming ground cover plant. I was thinking it is the same as one I am seeing here but on closer exam I think not. (What I am seeing here, white also, we have always called "wood violets" but that's just our name. It has a different flower; like a large violet, though.) Love the mushroom shot also. Here at 3333 we have so many mushrooms; I could spend all day just cataloging the different kinds. They are a mystery to me that I enjoy (not to eat though as I am not proficient enough to know what I am doing on that score...)
    Thank you for this post.

  5. glad the tornadoes missed you! I am watching the weather radar now..as there is a threat of heavy rain and storms.
    I think its cool that you let the kids eat the garlic mustard..
    I am sure you have Morels...Maybe just a bit longer..they need 70 degree days 40 nights for a few weeks...I also read the ground temp should be 50 in the morning..I find them here under Tulip Poplar.
    Good luck..there are Morel maps...just google Morels and you will find them.

  6. Kerri--I'm from Missouri and grew up being scared of tornadoes.

    Louvregirl--there is a white wood violet here but the flower is small. I only look for morel mushrooms to eat since they are so different looking from all others.

    dAwN-thanks for the tips. I will keep looking...

  7. ...loved all those Dutchman's Breeches!
    ...also, glad you were safe through the tornadoes. We always run to the basement when they rip through our little tornado alley. The worst we've experienced was the mile-wide Xenia tornado in the early 70s...so much destruction.

  8. Kelly-glad you are safe from the storms. I remember as a child being scared of tornadoes but in this area, they are rare.

  9. I have been to Wildwood several times. The rock covered in moss in tufa or lufa, getting old can't recall exactly.

    We missed the tornadoes on Saturday, they passed us to the north and south. Not seen any damage in Durham or Chapel Hill.

    Our crested iris grow and bloom in about 4-5 hours sun, any less than that and they will not bloom. Red clay soil in what the soil is like.

  10. Randy--just saw your comment. Hope you were spared the recent tornado. It's been a crazy spring--weather wise for the Appalachians.