Searching for the crested coralroot

Less than 70 miles. That’s the distance between my home in Charlotte and our place in the Uwharries. Sometimes the two feel worlds apart. Blue city, red county. Skyscrapers, silos. Congested streets, open roads. High-rise condos, low-slung ranch houses. It sometimes seems they have nothing in common. And then a rare occurrence reminds us just […]

Hope is the thing with leaves

Imagine what it would be like to help establish a brand new national park. One that would be larger than the combined acreage of the Everglades, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Canyonlands, Mount Ranier, North Cascades, Badlands, Olympic, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, Denali and Great Smoky Mountains. One that would be spread uniformly across the country instead […]

Overcoming plant blindness: Seeing the extraordinary in the common

For a lay naturalist, springtime in the Uwharries can be exhausting. There’s a sense of urgency this time of year – the migrating birds and spring ephemerals come and go in a matter of weeks. I’ve resorted to multi-tasking. I’ve given up binoculars in favor of birding by ear. This allows me to identify the […]

Wildflowers in our woodlands

It’s a great time to be in the woods and spot our region’s many wildflowers (socially distant and with plenty of room between you and anyone else on the trail, of course). Although many state parks are closed due to COVID-19 situation, the trails in the Uwharrie National Forest are still open, and exercise is […]

Preserving rare plants: In search of Heller’s blazing star

How do you protect a plant that grows only on rocky outcrops at high elevations in the Amphibolite Mountains of northwestern North Carolina? It takes a team.

Finding the beauty in a bagworm

The overall cluster was about the size of my fist.  A woven cylindrical core was decorated with willow oak leaves, some of them whole and others torn.  They had been applied in an intriguingly symmetrical pattern, creating the effect of wings and a tail.  Tiny twigs with swollen buds had also been incorporated into the design, their weight providing a ballast.  The creature twirled and fluttered in the breeze, a sylvan ballerina.

A native plant that adds habitat – and flair – across North Carolina

During a whirlwind visit to Fort Fisher this month, I sped by the historic bunkers and raced through the N.C. Aquarium. My husband and I were on foot, on a mission to catch the next ferry to Southport, but the sight of white-bracted sedge spilling from the humble ditches along Highway 421 stopped me in […]

Beyond Crowders and Morrow Mountain: 8 great spots to get your nature fix near Charlotte

Most people who visit the Uwharrie region for recreation probably know about spots like the Uwharrie Trail and Morrow Mountain State Park. Or maybe you’re used to driving west, to Crowders Mountain State Park. However, there are a lot of lesser-known gems in the region that many tourists miss out on, and some that even […]

Taken for ‘granite’: The flowers of flatrock habitat

I recently stumbled on an especially interesting habitat while exploring the flora and fauna on a site that once held granite quarries. I was with Crystal Cockman from the LandTrust for Central North Carolina and Nell Allen from the North Carolina Zoo. Today trees and luscious foliage cover the property just east of Salisbury. But […]

Make your own luck with clover

Growing up in the Uwharries, my sister and I were country girls through and through, right down to the soles of our feet. We went barefoot much of the summer. The red clay stained our feet the color of rust. Our calluses allowed us to traverse the gravel driveway and cross the gooey asphalt on […]