In a Canyon Excavating for a Mine or My Darling Clematis
by Don Higgins
After a couple days that dropped nearly three inches of rain, clouds parted for a spectacular morning in Petit Jean Mountain’s Cedar Creek Canyon on May 22, 2013.
A stalwart group consisting of Jeanette and Sid Vogelpohl, Jay Justice, Eric Sundell and your obedient servant met at the newly-renovated Mather Lodge and soon descended some 300 feet into the canyon, all the while accompanied by myriad fascinating plants and the gurgling of a dozen small cascades tumbling beside the trail.
We found spring’s peak blooming time for wildflowers some weeks past, but nevertheless some beauties remained on display, from heal-all at the top of the trail, to a native clematis, leatherflower, deep in the canyon.
Since Arkansas’s tree expert, Eric Sundell, and Arkansas’s mycologist, Jay Justice, were at hand, our group felt encouraged to search way up high and way down low in addition to looking for spring buds.
Two surprising finds near Cedar Falls—booming, by the way—were several specimens of American yellowwood and one of the invasive wahoo or burning bush. While observing the 70-foot waterfall I recalled that I was looking for coal in the nearby strata to illustrate a local history article about Petit Jean Mountain coal mining, and managed to find a small vein of coalified fragments in the sandstone and shale deposits.
I am happy to report that everyone made it safely out of the canyon for lunch at the Lodge.
Here’s our list of notable species observed:
Yellow patch – Amanita flavoconia
Jack-in-the-pulpit – Arisaema triphyllum
Ozark chinquapin – Castanea ozarkensis
American yellowwood – Cladrastis kentukea
Leatherflower or vasevine – Clematis viorna
Burning bush (exotic invasive) – Euonymus alatus
Maleberry – Lyonia ligustrina
Solomon’s seal – Polygonatum biflorum
Bear’s foot, or whiteflower leafcup – Polymnia canadensis
Selfheal or heal-all – Prunella vulgaris