Friday, March 14, 2008

Bloomin' Swamp

Although it's not officially spring, it's beginning to look like it in the swamp at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. Many of the trees buffering the swamp have already begun leafing out and some of the young Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) and the Red Maple (Acer rubrum) have begun leafing out in the swamp itself.

Along the edges of the swamp and on the bluff overlooking Mallard Lake, some of the first wildflowers are showing themselves. Near #2 along the boardwalk Dwarf Trillium (Trillium pusillum) is blooming above a carpet of pinestraw and poison ivy. Beidler Forest is the only site in South Carolina known to have Dwarf Trillium.

The bright, white blossom of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) stands in contrast to the dried, brown leaf litter on the forest floor of the bluff overlooking Mallard Lake. "Indians used the red juice from the roots to dye baskets and clothingand to make war paint. Appalachian crafters today still use the red juice to dye baskets and cloth. Indians also used the sap as an insect repellent and used the dried root to cure rattlesnake bites. When it became known that the Indians used the root as a somewhat successful treatment for tumors, interest in the plant increased. Drugs developed from bloodroot effectively treat ringworm and eczema." (Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee, Richard D. Porcher)

Nearby the bluff, Little Sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum) is also blooming. Royal Fern is (Osmunda regalis) is returning along the boardwalk near #5. Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) has been blooming in the forest and along roadsides since last week. "This is the state flower of South Carolina and is often cultivated. All parts are poisonous when taken internally, but not to the touch. Children have been poisoned by sucking the nectar from the flowers, probably mistaking them for honeysuckle." (Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee, Richard D. Porcher)

Images by Brad Dalton

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