Saturday, May 14, 2011

Moonshine Creek Campground

I decided today was a good day to roll into a campground for a partial day off. I awoke this morning to more clouds and an aching achilles tendon (nothing major, just part of the break-in period), and so time to take a break before my body makes me. Besides this is my last opportunity before I hit Asheville, about 6 days from now. 

Before I get started on the plants, I'd like to remark on what an amazing service the people here at Moonshine Creek Campground have been. They picked me up at the trailhead (thank you Betty and Butch), allowed me to check in hours early, provided me with a cozy clean cabin, clean restrooms with hot water, assisted me in mailing home some unneeded (and too heavy gear), and hooked me up with a ride into town(thank you Logan for finding me some friendly folks) and thank you Vicky and Chris from South Carolina for being those friendly folks. I have not gotten the owner's name yet, but a big thank you to you to for providing such a pleasant place to roll off the trail and chat with some good people.

So let me highlight some plants for you now that I am hooked up, drying out, and enjoying sitting in a tiny 12x12ft cabin with a bed and electricity!

So one of the first plants to steal the show was Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana). This plant abundant the first two days on the trail, while I was in the Smokies. It seemed to flourish on sunny slopes in the woods, as well as along sun dappled edges of trail.

 Notice the 5 petaled regular flower, colored white-pink and striped with vivid pink lines. We know this is a Carolina Spring Beauty and not simply a Spring Beauty (C.virginica) because it's leaves are long stalked and more of an oval or rounded shaped, whereas C.virginica has long narrow leaves. As I said, the entire plant is edible- the above ground parts (stem, flower, leaves) as a salad fixin' or on a sandwich, as well as the root or more accuratly the corm (a corm is a short underground enlarged plant stem that the plant uses for nutrient storage, roots grow from the corm). These corms can be prepared like a potato would be. Pick these beauties mindfully.

Another plant that first greeted me on the trail and has persisted along the trek. I tiny groups of just 5-10 peeking out from mud and moss near stone steps, as well as in large communities along the edges of trail, but where it forms the largest spreads is along the edge of the parkway, where it creates long narrow streams of blue, is the Creeping Bluet (Houstonia serpyllifolia). These flowers are four-petaled, deep blue with a yellow center, leaves opposite. What distinguishes the Creeping Bluet from simply a Bluet (H.caerulea) is its almost round leaves (these are the teeny tiny leaves you see in the center of the pic), bold blue petals (as opposed to paler blue), and well, the fact that its stem, creeps! These are edible from the ground up (not the root), and have a pleasant crisp flavor. They can be enjoyed as one would Spring Beauties.

Oh! And the Trilliums. So many trilliums. They like the dark moist woods and I've seen them growing streamside, speckling deep woods and spreading out over entire slopes beside the parkway. Below are pics of those I've seen the most, as well as a nodding red one. Perhaps someone here can tell me- is this simply Wake Robin or Large Flowering at a later stage? Trilliums are part of the Lily Family (Liliaceae) and have 3 whorled entire leaves that encircle the top of the stalk. Flowers can be long, short stalked, or stalkless. However, these are all long stalked. I have no experience with Trillium as a medicine, since it is a plant that has been overharvested in the past and is best one to leave be, but it does have a long history of various uses. The root has acrid, astringent, and antiseptic properties, good for producing heat and tightening tissue, and discouraging infection. It has been used for everything from easing childbirth to decreasing hemorrhage and mucous discharge. Two traditional interesting preperations I found were to boil the root in milk (don't know proportions) for diarrhea and dysentery; another was to boil the leaves in lard and apply to ulcers and tumors.

Wake Robin Trillim (Trillium erectum)

Painted Trillium (T.undulatum)

Unknown Trillium
 To follow are some of the pleasant plant surprises...if anyone has any information on these, please feel free to share in the comments section...

Miami Mist (Phacelia purshii)
Umbrella Plant
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)

That's all for tonight, signing off from Jack Daniels Cabin #2 (yes, that is the actual name of this cabin!)


  1. I am amazed that you are blogging from the woods! I guess I didn't think about how this would all work. Can't wait to see what else you find.


  2. Heather,
    Your timing for your trip seems perfect. What an abundant Spring it is!
    You are "living light, and spreading the light"

  3. Beautiful pictures, Heather. Sure are enjoying following you each day.
    Take care, Mom and Dad

  4. the pictures of the plants are great and all, but I most enjoyed the new profile pic...... you sure know how to work a hot pink umbrella, my friend!

  5. I hope nobody is having trouble posting comments. The only option that worked for me was to use an ancient aim account of mine.
    - Scott H.