The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Appalachian Excursion in 2005!

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Another unsuccessful search
Back to my narrative thread.

The next morning I was driving north (alone!) even before the sun rose. With two new sites to look for, I had a full agendum. I drove the ascending road up the escarpment through Caesar's Head State Park (pausing to take in the spectacular views), and continued on to North Carolina. As I navigated towards Pisgah National Forest, I was intrigued to see chunks of white fuzz blowing in the wind--at first I thought it was ash from a fire, but since there was no smoky smell, I concluded it must be bits of fuzz from cottonwood inflorescences. That I had seen no cottonwood trees was only a minor flaw in my theory.

After another 30 minutes I had entered the National Forest, and my road climbed ever higher. Even though the species composition in the forest had changed, the airborne fuzz blowing on the wind did not diminish--indeed it even intensified. Overcome by curiosity, I pulled onto the noisy gravel shoulder. Stepping out of the car I instantly discovered that it had gotten really cold! And that cottonwood fuzz? It was snow! I goggled! I was completely unprepared for this! I had left my extra clothes in Greenville; all I had was a light jacket. This was going to be a chilly day...

When I finally arrived at my first destination 45 minutes later, 1cm (1/2 inch) of snow covered the ground. Icicles (ICICLES!) hung from the trees and the wind on my face had a nasty bite. I switched from my walking shoes to my hiking boots, and groaned when I realized they were still soaking from the previous day's explorations--this morning wasn't going to be merely chilly--it was going to be miserable!

Inadequately dressed, I plodded into the snowy bushes in search of Sarracenia purpurea. The botanist who had told me about this site hadn't visited it since 1981, and he didn't know if Sarracenia were still present. My instructions were vague ("search near the parking area"), so after a few short spur hikes to figure out the local streamcourses, I started my search. What followed was a horrible, pathetic two and a half hours pushing through dense rhododendrons and thorny smilax, wading through frigid water, scrambling up river banks both icy and muddy, pushing aside snow with gloveless fingers, shuffling frozen metal tripod from numb hand to hand, all while trying to find Sphagnum and pitcher plants. In short, I struck out. Alas!

(Later, upon returning home, I read e-mail from a friend of mine who had visited the site just one day earlier, on a warm and snowfree day. He was able to find the plants--I must have just missed them in my numb-fingered land of misery. Oh well...there will be another day, another visit.)

The above is Iris verna, a pretty enough species to satisfy my camera lens.

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Revised: October 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005