Wild Azaleas, photo by Anstr Davidson

Wildflowers on the MMT Course

by Gary Knipling

(To see pictures of many of these flowers, visit John Coiner's Blue Ridge Flowers site)

Wow! What a class event! Ed Demoney, Anstr Davidson, Bill Sublett, Valerie Meyer, Scott Mills, Bill Van Antwerp and their many VHTRC helpers make it harder and harder to improve upon a great trail run. But each year they succeed. Mother Nature also succeeded in showing off her wildflowers at the '01 MMT. Last year I saw about 30 species, this year over 45. The flowers apparently liked the cooler spring of 2001.

Wild Azalea--Photo by Dee AllenThe Wild Azalea could very well be the official wildflower of the MMT because of it's image being etched on the finishers buckle. This year runners were not only traeted to beautiful clusters of the white to deep-pink blossoms of the head high bushes, but their sweet waves of aroma would periodically engulf the runners along the ridgetops of the MMT course.

Open fields to woody thickets, low wetlands to mountain tops, rich soil to to rocky soil, roadsides to deep woods - the MMT goes through a wide variety of habitats. And, each habitat provides the opportunity for Nature to show her stuff. Of special interest to me was the presence again this year of Turkey Beard, a terminal cluster of small white flowers growing from a single thick stem two to three feet high. The only spot I have seen it is at the very top of Waterfall Mt., and there were only 6-8 plants - just like last year. A first-timer for me in the Massanuttens was Sundial Lupine, a beautiful deep purple flower 1-2 feet high growing along FDR 274 going from the bottom of Kerns Mt. toward the Visitor Center.

The list and their locations (as far as I remember, anyway ):

Mountain Laurel, photo by Dee Allen

  • Wild Azalea (white/pink), common
  • Bluets (blue/lavender), common
  • Blackberry (white), common
  • Yellow Wood Sorrell (yellow), common
  • Star Grass (yellow), common
  • Jack in the Pulpit (green), common
  • Violets (many shades of blue to white), common
  • Ground Ivy (purple), common
  • Rue Anemone (white), common
  • Dandelion (yellow), common OK, OK ... its still a flower, growing wild !!
  • Pussytoes (white), common
  • Cinquefoil (yellow), common
  • Rattlesnake Weed (yellow), common
  • Hawkweed (yellow), common
  • Field Mustard (yellow), common
  • Deerberry (white), Habron Gap, Woodstock Tower
  • Mountain Laurel (white to pink), Gap Creek, Scothorn Gap, Powells Fort
  • Beardtongue (purple), Buzzard's Rock, Rt 613
  • Bowman's Root (white), Buzzard's Rock
  • Buttercup (yellow), Rt 613
  • Spiderwort (purple), Shawl Gap, Bird Knob, Waterfall trail
  • Goat's Beard (pale yellow), Rt 684
  • Spring Beauty (pink, white), Duncan Hollow
  • Wild Phlox (lavender), Buzzard's Rock, Bird Knob, Bear Wallow trail
  • Pink Lady's Slipper (pink), Habron Gap trail, Milford Gap, Visitor Center
  • Dame's Rocket (blue/lavender), Visitor Center
  • Turkey Beard (white), top of Waterfall Mt
  • Wild Geranium (blue), Woodstock Tower, Powell's Fort
  • Green and Gold (yellow), Scothorn Gap, Eliz Furnace
  • Red Clover (deep pink), Rt 684 Yeah, I know but it adds to the numbers.
  • Solomon's Seal (green), Habron Gap, Bird Knob, Woodstock Tower
  • Solomon's Plume (white), Powell's Fort, Eliz Furnace
  • Garlic Mustard (white), Rt 684, FDR 274
  • Honeysuckle (yellow/white), Rt 717
  • May Apple (white), Rt 613, FDR 274
  • Ox Eye Daisy (white w/ yellow center), Powell's Fort
  • Speedwell (levender), Kern's Mt
  • Lyre-leaved Sage (blue), Rt 684
  • Robin Plantain (lavender w/ yellow center), Buzzard's Rock, Powell's Fort
  • Dwarf Iris (blue/yellow), Bird Knob, Waterfall trail
  • Perfoliate Bellwort (green), Woodstock Tower
  • Squawroot (yellow/brown), Habron Gap, Waterfall trail
  • Vetch (blue), several species down low along roads
  • Bastard Toadflax (white), Jack's Notch, Stephen's trail
  • Autumn Olive (green), bottom of Jawbone trail
  • Sundial Lupine (purple), FDR 274
  • "Whenever you go on a trail run, you find more than you seek"
    I wish I had said it first.

    Happy trails,

    Gary ( #51)

    Virginia Happy Trails Running Club

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