|View from Weverton cliffs to the southwest overlooking the Potomac river. At the far right is the Shenandoah river.|
Most of the lower slopes are moist with rich soil. As you climb the soil gets rockier and drier. This is reflected in the type of vegetation you see along the zig-zag trail. Being mid-July there were not a lot of flowers in bloom. On the way up I passed by patches of bellwort, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and false Solomon's seal. There were also a surprising variety of ferns, a few I figured out and some that remain a mystery to me.
|A Massachusetts fern (right) and possibly mountain woodsia (left) growing next to the trail.|
Here is the back side of what I believed to be a Woodsia.
On further checking and finding more of these I'm pretty
sure that this is log fern, Dryopteris celsa.
|The small-flowered leaf cup appear to have no petals on the flowers. |
It may have been a little early as the buds were just opening up.
|Table Mountain Pine is adapted for growing in thin, rocky acidic soils.|
|False pennyroyal, a member of the mint family, |
has opposite leaves and an intense smell when touched.
I didn't think I would find anything new on the way back down, but I was wrong. The change in perspective revealed almost as many new plants as on the way up. The first one I noticed was narrow-leaved Houstonia (Houstonia tenuifolia). What I noticed were the bright little flowers seemingly floating in space. The leaves are so narrow you could easily miss seeing them.
|Narrow-leaved Houstonia has white to pale lavender flowers. |
The broad leaves on the ground belong to a different plant.
|Each of the yellow flowers were nodding, defying an easy photo op.|
Back at the trail head I continued on toward the river to see what was growing in this more 'civilized' environment. There were many more non-native and invasive species like Japanese stilt grass, tree of heaven and rose of Sharon. Mixed in were a some native species. On a large rock near the US 340 underpass was a large patch of common polypody (Polypodium virginianum).
|Common polypody is an evergreen fern commonly found growing on rocks, |
particularly in shaded, north-facing areas.