Studies in Green ~ Part V

Mountain Laurel's beautiful trickery
Mountain Laurel's beautiful trickery

You can see the flower detail better here (and read a bit of the folk lore, botany and history of use) for this common Appalachian flowering shrub that is just now coming into full bloom on the Parkway.

The bowl-shaped flowers have spring loaded male parts just waiting for a bumblebee to land on the pink-white dish: he gets a sip of nectar, the plant uses the bee’s mobility to spread it’s pollen to a distant bush where sperm (wrapped up in an intricate pollen case) will meet egg.

As far as green goes, these leathery leaves of a shrub sometimes known as “ivy” are generally very dark green, the more so because the leaves are so thick and don’t let any light pass through. That, and the fact that they more often grow in the deep shade of forests together with Rhododendrons, Galax, Hobblebush and other tough dark greens.

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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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