Mid-April Highlights at the Mitchell Mill State Natural Area

Mid-April is an excellent time of year to visit the granitic flat rocks at the Mitchell Mill State Natural Area.  The Appalachian Stitchworts (Minuartia glabra) are in full bloom and completely cover some areas along the margins of the rock.

Minuartia glabra Appalachian Stitchwort

Minuartia glabra
Appalachian Stitchwort

Minuartia glabra Appalachian Stitchwort Flower

Minuartia glabra
Appalachian Stitchwort
Flower

The Elf Orpine (Diamorpha smallii) are budding at most sites, and in some areas, starting to bloom.   The diversity of their color and form can be seen in the following photos.

Diamorpha smallii Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii
Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii
Elf Orpine

Elf Orpine is often seen with another flat rock species, the Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa.

Diamorpha smallii Elf Orpine with Opuntia humifusa , Eastern Prickly Pear

Diamorpha smallii
Elf Orpine with Opuntia humifusa , Eastern Prickly Pear

The plants below get a little longer sun exposure and are about to bloom.

Diamorpha smallii Elf Orpine

Diamorpha smallii
Elf Orpine

The Quill Fameflowers – Phemeranthus teretifolius,  are just emerging  and are small and difficult to spot. They grow very quickly from this point.

Quill Fameflower Phemeranthus teretifolius

Quill Fameflower
Phemeranthus teretifolius

The Low Spearwort (Ranunculus pusillus) is growing rapidly and has now assumed its adult plant form.

Ranunculus pusillus  Low Spearwort Plant Form

Ranunculus pusillus
Low Spearwort
Plant Form

Tadpoles are beginning to fill the large pools formed in the flat rocks near the Little River.  Pine pollen is still very heavy and can be seen on the surface of the water in the pools.

Tadpoles

Tadpoles

The massed blooms of the Elf Orpine are the most spectacular sight at Mitchell Mill in the spring, bringing visitors from all across the Southeast. The blooms should begin within a week and last through the rest of April.

Herb Amyx

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