What We Saw on the VMI Bluffs Field Trip (04/19/14)

TwinleafSigned ToadTrilliumSigned PaxistimaCanbyiSigned

On April 19, 2014 Jefferson Chapter had a wonderful trip to the VMI bluff and Maury River floodplain.  Ruth Douglas led 18 of us to see the many unusual plants there.  The area has a wonderful combination of limestone soil; a cool and moist north facing slope, too steep for deer or logging; and a deep, sandy loam on the bottom land along the river.  The result is a rich array of species, many of which are not often seen in Albemarle where the soil is more acid.

Due to the late spring, there were still a few twin leaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) flowers [see picture 1] and the hillside was thick with blooming dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) and Carolina spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana),  but the jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans)  was beginning to bloom and the toad trillium (Trillium sessile) [see picture 2] and virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) were gorgeous.  Our most exciting discovery was the rare rat stripper (Paxistima canbyi) [see picture 3] in bloom.  Another unusual plant that we found in numerous spots was balsam ragwort (Packera paupercula), and the hoary puccoon (Lithospermum canescens) was in its full glory.  It was a memorable day.


[Trout lily (Erithronium americanum), showing the “ears” (auricles) at the base of the petals that distinguish it from Erythronium umbilicatum).]


Written by Jeff. Chapter President:  Mary Lee  Epps

Plants being offered at our 2014 Plant Sale

Jefferson Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society’s



April 27 (Sun.), 2014, 1:00 – 3:00 PM

IvyCreek Natural Area, Barn

1780 Earlysville Rd., Charlottesville

Plants listed have been potted by the Jefferson Chapter members from propagated plants (not collected from wild areas).  Many additional species beyond those listed will be available at the sale.  Quantities limited, arrive early for best selection.  10 % discount for VNPS members.

Spring Ephemeral (Woodland) Wildflowers $ 4.00

  • Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canandensis)
  • Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)
  • Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)
  • Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
  • Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
  • Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)
  • Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
  • Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
  • Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans)
  • Celandine Poppy (Stylophrum diphyllum)
  • Toadshade Trillium (Trillium sessile)

Groundcovers $ 4.00

  • Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
  • Ebony Spleenwort Fern (Asplenium platneuron)
  • White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus)
  • Golden Star or Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)
  • Mouse-eared Coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata ‘Nana’)
  • Alumroot (Heuchera americana)
  • Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Pink’)
  • Wild Stonecrop Sedum (Sedum ternatum)

Full Season (Full and Partial Sun) Wildflowers $ 4.00

  • Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
  • Maryland Golden Aster (Chrysopsis mariana)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Broad-leaved Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum)

Trees and Shrubs $ 6.00

  • Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
  • Chickasaw Plum (Prunus angustifolia)
  • Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Plant Sale Profile: Aquilegia Canadensis

Columbine (University of Tenn)Native throughout the piedmont and most counties in Virginia, Aquilegia Canadensis (Wild Columbine, Eastern Red Columbine) can be found in dry forests, woodlands, barrens, and rock outcrops; shell-marl slopes, bluffs, and shell middens in the Coastal Plain. Although most numerous on subcalcareous, calcareous, and mafic substrates, in the higher mountains it is more tolerant of acidic soils and varied habitats, including mesic to dry-mesic forests, meadows, and roadsides.

Aquilegia Canadensis, a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family has beautiful 1 1/2 inch red and yellow blooms.  Blooming in late spring to early summer for about a month, this plant does not have a scent.  Growing from 1-3 feet tall, the foliage is also attractive.  The foliage is toxic so this plant is rarely bothered by mammals.

columbineAquilegia Canadensis grows in light shade to partial sun, the more established plants even tolerating full sun.  Moist soil to dry conditions that is loamy, rocky or slightly sandy is its optimum growing environment.

Easy to grow Aquilegia Canadensis, was observed by Thomas Mann Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s Line Drawing Columbineson-in-law, blooming on April 30, 1791 at Monticello.  Seeds can be planted at any time during the growing season for flowers the following year.  Roots are fibrous and rhizomes sometimes are produced.

Bees, flies, insect larvae, and hummingbirds all benefit from Aquilegia Canadensis making it a great plant to add into your semi-shady/woodland garden.


Line Drawing from New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora by H. A. Gleason (1958)

Plant Sale Profile: Trillium grandiflorum

Trillium1Native to Greene and Nelson, Trillium grandiflorum known as Large-Flowered Trillium or Great White Trillium, is one of the showiest trilliums in Virginia.   It grows in cove forests, mesic to dry-mesic slope forests, northern hardwood forests, Northern Red Oak forests, and seepage swamp hummocks; most characteristic of and numerous in (but not restricted to) soils weathered from mafic and moderately to strongly calcareous rocks. Common in the mountains; rare in the inner Piedmont.

Trillium grandiflorum grows 9-18 inches tall.  The central stem has 3 medium green terminal leaves 6 inches long by 5 inches across.  The flowers are 3-4 inches across.  Each flower consists of 3 white petals, 3 sepals, 3 stigmas, 6 stamens and a white ovary.  The petals often turn pink as they age.

Trillium grandiflorum blooms mid to late spring for three weeks.  The seed pod becomes dark with age before bursting open.  Ants spread the seeds because of the pods have elaisomes (food appendages).  If you plant to grow this plant by seed, it takes years to mature into a flowering plant.  Transplanting rhizomes can also take several years to mature.

can form loose colonies in optimum conditions.  This plant likes dappled sun / light shade.  It tolerates more shade as the season persists.  It likes rich, loamy damp soil.  It grows well in rich loamy damp environments making it a great woodland garden choice.

Rarely visited by insects, Ceratina dupla (little carpenter bee) collects pollen and nectar.  Explexia benesimilis (American Angle Shades) and Clepsis melaleucana (Black-patched Clepsis) moth caterpillars have been seen occasionally feeding on members of the trillium family.   Deer do browse on this plant.  When colonized, small mammals can hide under the leaves.