The Fire Pinks Of Panther Mountain & The Importance Of Native Species

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “The Fire Pinks Of Panther Mountain 50121a” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Brilliant sunlight filters through the growing canopy of Panther Mountain. This is the place where I first encountered the native Fire Pinks. I’d read of them in books about wildlife as a child but had never seen them until I decided to explore the nearby mountain pass on the edge of the national forest. I’d grown up in the forest and I’ve encountered a lot of native plants but for whatever reason I just never bumped into the fire pink. So it was on my “must find” list. Years ago I found one lonely little fire pink growing out of a rock slide near the edge of the road. Now I’m sure that if I’d looked around hard enough I would have found more but at the time I was in unfamiliar territory and without any means of communication with the outside world should something go wrong on the steep slopes. Cellular technology was just coming to my area and even if I’d owned a phone there wasn’t much coverage. Only a couple of years prior I’d broken an ankle in the woods and wasn’t too keen on repeating the experience. So I took out my first real camera and snapped a few pictures. Being a new user of something more than a 35 mm point and shoot camera the composition was poor and out of focus. But still it was a victory for me because I’d accomplished the goal of locating and documenting a native species.

This time when I found the fire pinks in bloom there was much more of them readily visible. There was at least a half dozen individual plants within arms reach and I suspect that more was just over the ridge. The increase in number and timing of the find is a wonderful sign because the fire pink is pollinated by the ruby throated hummingbirds. If you have ever wondered why hummingbird feeders are red it’s because the majority of flowers hummingbirds are attracted to are red. Now it makes sense that bees are opportunistic and will come to the fire pink and that because red flowers are not always available hummingbirds will adapt and find something else like jewelweed or rose of Sharon but the placement of the pistols and stamens on fire pinks are geared to receive the hummingbirds. An increase in fire pink fertility probably means an increase in hummingbird activity. And the hummingbird is also on my “must find” list for photos. They do visit my yard every year but so far I’ve only been able to capture a green blur in the lens. Spotting a subject and capturing a postworthy image seems to be two different things. So fire pinks in the area means that I should have a better opportunity for getting the hummingbirds. It’s also a good example of why native species are so important. There are plenty of flowers opening right now and there’s some things that the hummingbirds can feed on but the timing of when instincts bring the hummingbirds out of the south and what plants are available for them to feed on is crucial for the survival of both. Hummingbirds will find and feed on Rose Of Sharon ( which is a Hibiscus and definitely on the hummingbird menu. ) but they haven’t even developed flower buds yet and probably won’t for several weeks. In the meantime the hummingbirds arrived sometime in mid April and with the distance they cover its a safe bet that they’re hungry when they get here. The fire pink is also listed as either threatened or endangered in a portion of the hummingbird range. If you have the open forest habitat for fire pinks and you like hummingbirds then it’s a good one to have on your land but because of the protected status it’s best to get them from a nursery. Plants like the Garlic Mustard covered in Forage Friday #104 can drive out and actively kill native plants like fire pink. And they don’t provide anything for the hungry hummingbirds when they arrive. So pull out the invaders and plant the natives!

Image Titled “The Fire Pinks Of Panther Mountain 50121b” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.

Announcement 2.0

For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.

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