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Painted Trillium | by snapdragginphoto
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Painted Trillium

I'm headed to the area around Roan Mountain tomorrow. This time of year, there is one subject in particular that is the nexus of the photographer's pilgrimage there... Catawba rhododendron. The place is, in the vernacular here in the American south, "eat up with it" (definition: there's a whole bunch of it there)! Grassy Ridge is the "Holy Grail" of rhododendron landscapes. Yes, there are other flower subjects that shouldn't be overlooked, like Gray's lily, flame azalea, and even tiny bluets, which are peculiarly blue at this altitude... but rhododendron are the stars of the show there, so it's sunrise/sunsets with rhododendron, grand mountain scenics with rhododendron, fog with rhododendron... you get the picture. That's the reason this picture isn't of the rhododendron of Craggy Gardens, which would seem a natural progression from the last image. Instead I offer this woodland beauty that graces North Carolina only in the western high elevations... painted trillium, or Trillium undulatum.

 

This state is about as far south as the painted trillium can be found. Ants are often seen on the flowers... that's because they disperse the seeds of Trillium undulatum. They are attracted by a chemical in a structure joined to the seed called an elaiosome, and carry it to their nests. Ants eat the elaiosomes, then discard the seeds within their tunnels where they later germinate... funny how nature can be so harmonious at times, isn't it? Makes one wonder about the probabilities involved with evolution. Trillium undulatum has been given an "endangered" status in some places. There are places in our mountains, however, that are inundated with painted trillium. Inundated? I'm sorry... I meant eat up with it.

 

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Taken on May 6, 2012