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Spring on Kennesaw Mountain
About North Georgia

by Mary Coeli Meyer, Ph.D.
exclusively for About North Georgia
Other pages on About North Georgia by Dr. Meyer:
Spring on Kennesaw Mountain
Toadstools or Mushrooms
Precursors of Springtime
Spring Has Sprung

Dr. Meyer has a CD
available for those who want more information:
Wildflowers of North Georgia

I wasn't the only one drawn by the woods this spring. There were joggers and dog walkers, families standing in the open meadow and lovers on blankets; but I seemed to be the only one with my eyes focused on the ground. I'm not sure what it is that compels me to search the leafy remnants of autumn. I've asked myself at least a dozen times why I must look down rather than up. Is there a world that needs discovery or am I just removing myself from this world to enter another? But why this heavy thinking? Why not just get on with the adventure?

I didn't have to go very far to transport myself to another world. Up the hill and around the bend, highlighting the drab brown earth was a patch of Bloodroot. They have the most peculiar leaves and the most spectacular flowers. The leaves look like they have been randomly cut out of stiff green paper-not leaf shaped at all. while the blossoms look like the stars have fallen right from the sky. As evening arrives, they close their blooms for us earthly folk and return to the heavens until the sun rises once again.

Photos on this page are from the CD, Wildflowers of Kennesaw Mountain © 2001, Dr. Mary Coeli Meyer
Just as I was taking in this vision of paradise, a group of young people from Germany strolled by. I overheard the young woman saying, "Vielleicht, das sind Alpenblumen". Having a bit of German under my belt I explained that these lovely flowers look similar to the Alpenblumen that grow in the mountains of Switzerland and Germany, but in this case, they were definitely Bloodroot. They get their name from the blood red stems and roots that Native Americans once used to dye fabrics.

A bit farther up the path, past the jogger who was panting his way down the trail, I came across the first Green And Gold of the season. Now why anyone would dash past a flower is beyond me. Panting instead of reflecting a moment isn't all that good so far as I can see. Better to pause between laps and take in the sights. Then you get your aerobic exercise in addition to some nutrition for the soul.

Green and GoldThe first Green And Gold blossom sits atop its prostrate leaves and beams at you like a miniature sun. It's impossible to miss. It beckons to you. This particular flower is prolific throughout these woods. It is a member of the composite family - a particularly robust family of flowers including the daisy. Like many flowers, it has five petals that surround a greenish center that is dotted with the same shade of yellow as the petals. The only things that change as the plant matures are that the center becomes even more yellow.

As though that weren't enough. I notice that there are violets everywhere. All kinds of violets; Common Blue, Birdfoot, Downy Yellow, Early Blue, Southern Wood. Each are different and yet the same. Each flower resembles the shape of the violet we all know -- five petals with a hairy center that captures the pollen from a visiting bee. Most of the time only leaf shapes and colors vary. The Early Blue is variegated, blue and white. The Southern Wood Violet looks like a miniature violet. Its leaves are dark green with purple veins. The Downy Yellow grows with leaves on its stem whereas all the others have their leaves at the base. The variations go on and on. Of course, I have to see them all.

Downy Yellow VioletThe violet is actually an herb--meaning that it is edible. In addition to candy coated violet flowers, the leaves and the flowers can adorn a salad -- if you do it in moderation. . Too many violets will make you wish you hadn't rejoiced quite so heartily. They can also be a laxative.

I can hardly bear it. There are flowers everywhere and the promise of more to come. I see the leaves of the Little Brown Jug - the jugs will come later. The green leaves of the geranium are already above ground and shortly the pink blossom will arrive. The Redbud is already in blossom while the cherry tree only has its buds. Goodness, there is a patch of trilliums awaiting their blossoms and the Carolina Allspice is naked and bare, waiting a bit longer for the warmer weather. The Carolina Allspice (a.k.a. Sweet Shrub) is not the same kind of allspice you use in food - in fact it is quite poisonous if you eat it. But, why think only of food? The Sweet Shrub promises a fragrance that will take you out of this world when it wafts through the woods about a week or two from now.

And here, we have the Smaller Pussytoes. I wonder, who came up with that name. I get out my hand lens to see how this little flower is put together. Unlike so many blossoms, this one is so tightly knit together that I can't see the stamens and pistils - all I see are petals and more petals. At the moment, they don't exactly look like kitty feet. But, perhaps I am looking too closely. Drawing back, I have an opportunity to adjust my interpretation. There are five of these blooms on the end of the stalk. Well, look at that! They are bunched just like the bottom of a kitten's foot so that's why they are called Pussytoes.

Now I have learned something.don't always focus on the micro life alone - I need to take the time to get a big perspective as well. Now I understand why they are called Pussytoes!

No matter where I go in North Georgia, there are wildflowers. Many are the same as those found on Kennesaw Mt. - in fact, most are. This time, I have a few hours to wander the trails and take more photos but that certainly isn't the end of my adventure. I will return again and again for several weeks to see the new arrivals and mourn the fallen ones. No two trips are exactly alike. Today, a Wild Pea -- tomorrow, a Toadflax. Always there is the world of flowers.
Wildflower CDEditor's note:Author and photographer Mary Coeli Meyer's first CD will help anyone and everyone interested in the wildflowers of North Georgia. They are arranged by color to make it easy to find the particular flower you have discovered (Ordering information)

Other pages on About North Georgia by Dr. Meyer:

Spring on Kennesaw Mountain
Toadstools or Mushrooms
Precursors of Springtime
Spring Has Sprung

County: Cobb County

North Georgia Mountains
Mountains and mountain chains of North Georgia including Lookout Mountain, Brasstown Bald, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
North Georgia Naturally
North Georgia -- it's a natural! From outdoor adventure to our natural history, About North Georgia covers the area with in-depth articles, photos, and insights into those great, little-known "secrets" of the area.

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Precursors of Springtime
Spring Has Sprung
Spring on Kennesaw Mountain
Toadstools or Mushrooms

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