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Thursday, September 19, 2019
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Now Blooming In White And Lumpkin Counties

5/23/19

By: Bill Kinsland

(Sautee) ” NOW BLOOMING IN WHITE & LUMPKIN COUNTIES – FIREPINK (Silene virginica): This flower is a member of the Carnation (Caryophyllaceae) family. I found these beautiful flowers along Whippoorwill LN in Sautee. There are more coming along Richard Russell Highway, especially in Hogpen Gap where the Appalachian Trail crosses. They are also found along the banks of Chestatee River near Highway 52 bridge in Lumpkin County.

-They have 5 petals, each petal having a distinctive notch in┬áthe tip…as if pinking shears had cut it…hence “pink” referring to the notch rather than the color. Each brilliantly red flower is about 1 to 2 inches across. Each plant stands between 1 and 2 ft high at maturity. There are basal leaves which are lance-shaped and up to 4 inches long at maturity. The stem bears 4 to 6 pairs of opposite lance-shaped leaves up to 6 inches long.

– Most of the literature says the blooming season is from April to June…which may be true at lower elevations. However, Hogpen Gap’s elevation is 3485 ft MSL…and temperatures there are some 7 to 10 degrees cooler on the average than lower elevations at Smithgall Woods (1552 ft MSL) and Helen nearby (1513 ft MSL). I have never seen Fire Pinks in Hogpen Gap before mid-May….but watching for their arrival is one of my annual “rituals”!

-This plant has very little medical use. It was tried and discarded by some early American practitioners as a de-worming medicine. It should not be used at all since it contains some toxic substances.

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