Even Violets Need a Plan B

The little blue edible flowers of common blue violet are a welcome sight in our garden in early spring, as my fleuravorous daughter loves to feed the sweet little flowers to our family, passersby, and her miniature menagerie. Most people are familiar with the violet genus (Viola spp., Violaceae), readily identifying the group by their […]

Passionflower – Ecology, Cultivation, Botany, and Medicinal and Edible Uses

If you have been following my blog or studied with me, you know I am interested in plant relationships in all their various forms, and not just plant/human relationships. Often when I am teaching, a student will interrupt my ramblings on ecology, botany, or cultivation to ask the proverbial “But what is it used for?” […]

Longleaf Pine

Longleaf Pine is an iconic tree of the southeastern coastal plains, much as the Redwood and Sequoia trees dominate their respective regions of the West. It is hard to get a sense of the Longleaf Pine’s historical ecologic and economic importance as one passes through the fields, pine plantations, and forests of the southeast today, […]

Spring Ephemerals and Elaiosomes

Spring ephemerals are perennial wildflowers that take advantage of the early spring sunlight reaching the forest floor. When the temperatures begin to rise in early spring these wildflowers grow quickly, flowering, setting seed, and dying back to their root system when the canopy begins to fill out. Once the trees are fully leafed out, the […]

Oconee Bells

Oconee bells (Shortia galacifolia, Diapensiaceae) in flower at the UNCA botanical gardens, March 12th 2010. This extremely rare, legendary flower heralds in the early spring in the southern Appalachians. Oconee bells is in the fairy wand family, along with Galax diphylla, which really lives up to its family namesake with its white raceme, perfectly sized […]


When the sky is still black Yet entertaining shades of steely blue Earth gathers her skirts about her and  rises up for the Suns first kiss of color She gently hushes the crickets and screech owls And rouses the dew-laden flowers from their slumber The beads of wetness captured from the cool night air joins […]

Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae) is one of our earlier wild spring greens. With a flavor slightly reminiscent of mild arugula and roasted garlic, it makes a nice addition in salads with milder wild greens like chickweed and violets. I find that its flavor doesn’t mellow when cooked, as do many other brassicas, and so […]

Daylily flower

Of pollination

Buds succulent and inflated with sunlight’s promise, the singular hope of visiting wings and careless brushes,  golden dust whispering future life, carrying the stories of those who came before, Nestled in glandular secretions sweet stigmatic respite Penetrating pollen tube and finally, the raveling of new life faith embedded in a seed  A public service announcement […]


Cherished water, teacher of infinite lessons and giver of life, May I possess the grace and wisdom to know when to rest in a shallow still pool and when to jump into the current’s strong pull.  As I bump up against the temporary solidness of rocks and yield in resilience, I pray that I can […]