Parkway Whites

Our cars carry us along the Blue Ridge Parkway rather often,  that 400-mile-long national park being the eastern-southern border of Floyd County.

But our cars also require us, from time to time, to visit the parkway because that is where our auto-mechanic has his palatial garage not far from Tuggle’s Gap.

And it was on just such a “car trip” a few days ago that, stopping at Rake’s Mill Pond overlook, these summer whites beckoned a closer look.

First is the tall spires of Culver’s Root.

Like so many Appalachian Mountain plants (though this one seems to be a prairie native) it has a history of medicinal uses that you can read about at wikipedia.

And the second white…

This plant is–well, I thought I knew but turns out I was wrong. And I did not pay attention to the leaves, since this level of detail would have had me down in the much at the edge of the mill pond.

So for now, this is “tall white unknown lily from Rake’s Mill Pond.” This is driving me sorta crazy to not know. Not sure when the next parkway road trip will be, but hoping it does not require ordering more Subaru parts.

And that I finally become reacquainted with this once-familiar plant that is not, after all, fly poison.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I am always interested in beautiful flowering plants that spring up naturally along roads and streams. They always looks healthy, and seem to belong there. I’m trying to establish a ‘drift’ of such plants on a cliff below my garden. More news about that in the spring, after I see whether or not it was successful!

  2. It bugged me when I learned I had misidentified the second tall white lily. And while doing something totally unrelated, I said aloud “Veratrum.” What was that, anyway? Sure enough, I searched and found the image, and realize that if I’d bothered to look at the leaves, I’d have recognized “False Hellebore” growing in its usual habitat of wetland margins–along Rakes Mill Pond. Mystery solved! And I know you are as relieved as I am! Right?