Notes from a plant nerd: Mountain-mint, a great pick for a pollinator garden

No matter where you are in the world, if you encounter a plant that has a square stem and opposite leaf arrangement — when two leaves grow out of the stem at the same place, but on opposing sides — it is most likely a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). 

Notes from a plant nerd: A jewel among wildflowers

Among my favorite plants to teach to children is jewelweed (Impatiens capensis & I. pallida).

Notes from a plant nerd: A lily so superb

Right now, throughout Southern Appalachia, and especially along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Balsam Gap in either direction, one of the most beautiful and iconic flowers in all of Appalachia is in bloom.

Notes from a plant nerd: Trilliums, Trilliums, Trilliums

Trilliums are some of the most beautiful and iconic wildflowers in the world, and the Southern Appalachian mountains are filled with many different trillium species.

Notes from a plant nerd: World, lose strife

For the past few years, whenever I encounter the whorled loosestrife growing along a trail or roadside I have been saying its name out loud, and slowly. Like a prayer: “World, lose strife.”

Notes from a plant nerd: Worts and All

Among the duff of last year’s fallen leaves lie many interesting and beautiful shapes to catch your eye on a winter’s walk in the woods. From the mosses and orchid leaves described in previous columns, to newly emerging plants preparing for spring’s full flush, there are many forms and patterns on the winter forest’s floor.

Notes from a Plant Nerd: Red Maple Winter

There’s a change in the air every year around this time. A subtle shift in energy. Days start getting longer, and sunset occurs later each day. Birdsong sings louder in the morning, and the sounds of wood frogs echo through the valleys.

Notes from a plant nerd: Winter moss gathers no stones

Among my favorite types of plants that grow year-round, and tend to especially shine in the wintertime, are mosses.

Notes from a plant nerd: Winter Green

While there are many plants that stay green throughout the winter, there is only one plant known as wintergreen.

Notes from a Plant Nerd: The winter forest

I love walking in the woods in the wintertime. Sure, there aren’t any wildflowers blooming, but there are no mosquitos to swat away, no flies or ants to bug your lunch, and no snakes to startle your path either. The long-range views visible through leafless trees give a fresh perspective to familiar trails as all the ridges and hollows are outlined starkly on the hillsides, showing evidence of water and its effect through millions of years of erosion.

Page 1 of 3
Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.