Wildflower Walks 2019 Wrap-up


For seven years, the Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists has organized wildflower walks on Shenandoah Mountain in the George Washington National Forest that cuts across the western side of Augusta and Rockingham Counties. gaywingsWhat started as a cohort project, has grown into a tradition for some families and groups of friends. It offers a way to highlight the fleeting and beautiful flower diversity that gives meaning to the spring season by admiring the bright pinks and purples of gay wings and violets, the subtle whites and greens of the wood anemone and wild ginger, and the color of spring flowers in contrast to the browns and beiges of the receding winter.

A record 90 people registered for the free walks on April 27th making 2019 the most attended day of walks yet. While there were slight variations in the species and numbers of wildflowers observed by each group, what people seem to really enjoy is getting out into the woods on a sunny day, sharing time with others in pursuit of a familiar favorite like fringed polygala (gay wings) scattered among the fallen leaves, long spur violet peeking out from the low grasses at the edge of the woods or Carolina pinks clinging to the rock face in the bright sun.

Here is a sample of the flowers seen on the walks:

Alum root
Autumn Olive
Birdsfoot violet
Bishops Cap
Blue violet
British soldiers
Canada mayflower
Banada violet
Cinnamon fern
Common blue violet
Creeping Charlie
Downy rattlesnake weed
Downy yellow violet
Dwarf Iris
Early saxifrage
English daisy
Flowering dogwood
Fringed orchid (emerging, not flowering until end of June)
Garlic mustard
Gaywing (fringed polygala)
Golden ragwort
Hooked buttercup
Jack in the pulpit
Longspur violet
May apple
Meadow rue
Milkweed species
Mountain fetterbush
Perfoliate bellwort
Plantain orchid
Poison oak
Pussy toes
Sessile-leaved bellwort
Small white violet
Smooth yellow violet
Solomon seal
Spotted wintergreen
Star chickweed
Sweet white violet
Tall blueberry
Trailing arbutus
Wake Robin trillium
white wood aster
Wild azalea (emerging)
Wild geranium
Wild ginger
Wild grape (NB)
Wild pink
Wild yamroot
Wineberry (NB)
Witch hazel
Wood anemone
Wood vetch
Yellow halberd violet


(NB)=not in bloom

Thanks to our co-sponsors, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain, who have worked long and hard to protect the woods and waters that feed our flowers and provide a place to come together in celebration of forest diversity.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped to organize, promote, scout trails, and lead these walks:

John Bauman
Chris Bowlen
Chip Brown
Kathy Byers
Lynn Cameron
Malcolm Cameron
Andrea Dono
Carl Droms
David Forrer
Mary Gatling-Finks
Sue Gier
Josie Henning
Phil Henning
John Holden
Peggy Plass
John Schuster
Jay Shaner
Cheryl Shull
Elaine Smith

For images of the 2019 Wildflower Walks, see the photo album on the Headwaters Master Naturalist Facebook group page HERE.

If you are a Headwaters Master Naturalist and want to be involved in planning, organizing, promoting, or leading a walk, please contact us as shenmtnwldflwrs [at] gmail.com!

Hope to see you on the trail next year, April 25th!

– Chip Brown, HMN Wildflower Walks coordinator, April 2019

Top photo is by Andrea Dono, Cohort VI, at the North River Campground Area. Photo below is by Lynn Cameron of organizer Chip at the upper Hone Quarry falls. Upper flower photo of gay wings is by Carl Droms at the North River Campground Area. Lower flower photo is by Lynn Cameron of wake robin trillium along the Hone Quarry Falls Trail.