Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mountains in Spring

Thousands and thousands of tourists head to the NC mountains every October to see the lovely fall colors. Large buses loaded with "leaf tour" citizens wind around the curvy mountain roads. Families park on the side of the road wherever possible to take photos of the glorious color. "No, I'll do the looking, you keep your eyes on the road," is heard in almost every car.

Many of these tourists (AKA flatland tourists, or simply flatlanders) do not know the lovely colors that spring brings to these same mountains. The first bit of color comes from the Eastern Redbud tree whose lovely red blossoms precede most of the leaves. Because the trees bud and leaf at different intervals, the mountains have many lovely shades of green.
The trees bringing this variety of greens and yellows are many. We have White Ash, Basswood (also called beetree because bees use it for honey production), Sweet Birch (once the only source of oil of wintergreen), Hickory, Red Maple, several varieties of Oak, Hickory, Yellow Poplar (Tulip Tree), Walnut, Locust, Willows, Black Cherry, and the American Beech (whose nuts are important food source for wildlife).
Most of the evergreens are assorted pines, Fraser Fir (your Christmas tree likely came from a western NC tree farm), and the Carolina Hemlock. The Carolina Hemlocks are widely infected with woolly adelgid, a parasite that kills the trees. Stands of this lovely old growth will likely go the way of the American Elm.

Finally, we have the flowering trees that give us a renewed sense of spring. Pictured here is the Flowering Dogwood. Currently blooming in our forests are the Fraser Magnolia and Tulip Poplar.
And see the peaceful trees extend
their myriad leaves in leisured dance—
they bear the weight of sky and cloud
upon the fountain of their veins.
- Kathleen Raine, Envoi
For more information about NC trees, visit:


LauraHinNJ said...

Lovely views of spring making it's way up the mountainside. Hemlocks are a favorite tree of mine; I don't find them often tho and to think they may all die from those nasty bugs.

Jayne said...

Oh, the redbuds were just splendid when we were up Asheville way! Many poplars were blooming as well. I agree... just as beautiful as the fall. :c)

Stacey Olson said...

Wow, It is so green in your hills. Thanks for sharing.

Kerri Farley said...

I was thinking this EXACT same thing this week. Springtime here in Virginia is as lovely as fall...with all of the striking colors of green and the beautiful blooms! Your mountains look lovely!

Ruth said...

Spring greens are the most beautiful and I enjoy the beginning of May so much. I will have to add your blog to my Google reader.

jan m said...

My husband and I spent our 35th anniversary in the Smoky Mountains last summer, near Bryson City, NC. What a beautiful area. Welcome to blogging!

NCmountainwoman said...

We are very fortunate that the elevation of our county varies from 2,200 feet in downtown Brevard to more than 6,000 feet at Chestnut Bald. Therefore we can take a rather short drive and see spring making its way up. Ever changing and ever beautiful.

Mary said...

Ahhh. I love the mountains...and next week my husband and I will be passing through on our way to Maryland. I'll be thinking of you when we do.