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It’s starting to become the goldenrod time of the year. Goldenrods — like asters, thistles, cosmos, zinnias, daisies, coneflowers, dahlias,…

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Sometimes it’s difficult to draw the line between the natural and cultivated plant worlds. As cultivated plants escape they often…

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An article by Jon Ostendorff headed “Rare fish released into Oconaluftee River” appeared in this past Monday’s edition of the…

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I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time recently up on the Blue Ridge Parkway conducting natural history…

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This past Sunday afternoon I decided to go for a walk along the Tuckasegee River west of Bryson City. If…

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Last week a late evening thunderstorm with high winds and occasional flashes of lightning rolled out of the high Smokies…

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Have you ever noticed that once you start thinking about something or someone you haven’t seen in awhile, it’s not…

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If you like native Appalachian plants that are variable and adaptive, have interesting natural histories with abundant associations in both…

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The status of a given plant as either a “noxious weed” or a “lovely wildflower” is pretty much a matter…

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I’m rediscovering that it’s good to just slip out of the office and amble around town for a few minutes.…

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Rhododendrons are a part of the heath family (Ericaceae), which includes such diverse members in regard to size and habitat…

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Doctoral dissertations don’t usually make for exciting reading. There are, however, exceptions.

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Flame azalea is one of our most magnificent common shrubs here in the Smokies region. From late spring into early…

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It seems that every lawn care commercial on TV or radio these days is aimed at touting a product which…

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The preservation of the Cowee mound and village site alongside the Little Tennessee River in Macon County is truly significant…

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Paul Fink and Myron H. Avery were two of the foremost explorers of the Southern Appalachians — especially the Great…

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Since the mid-1980s, I’ve been researching and writing about events surrounding the Cherokee removal of 1838, especially those pertaining to…

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Some essays get to their point or points right away. Others are discursive, beating around the bush before getting there.…

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Bloodroot is surely one of most widely admired wildflowers in the eastern United States. Walk now through any rocky, deciduous…

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There is a newly published collection of essays that deserves the full attention of any reader interested in this region’s…

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As most everyone knows, a cockfight is a match between two specially trained roosters traditionally held in a ring called…

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I have on more than one occasion written about Uktenas, the giant horned serpents modeled on timber rattlesnakes that appear…

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As noted previously in several Back Then columns, the Cherokees and later on the white settlers here in the Blue…

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Just after Christmas, my wife, Elizabeth, and I were driving south in the San Luis Valley of Colorado headed for…

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In the natural world there are certain experiences that rivet our attention and remain stored in our memory banks. Through…

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For me, no pursuit is truly worthwhile unless it has an associated body of literature one can consult from time…

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Back in November at the Great Smoky Mountains Book Fair in Sylva I met Patricia Kyritsi Howell and purchased a…

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Maintaining a nature journal has been one of my ongoing, albeit intermittent, preoccupations. Keeping such a journal assists me in…

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While conducting plant identification workshops, I always try to remember to discuss two aspects that are essential if one is…

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Winter is unsparing. It exposes the lines and blemishes on human faces. It reveals worn hillsides and rutted backcountry lanes.…

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Now is the time to start looking for yellow-bellied sapsuckers here in the Smokies region. Of the various woodpecker species…

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While observing your backyard bird feeder this winter, you may be startled by a blue flash that suddenly rockets into…

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Some winters there will be an influx of northern bird species into the southeastern United States. Here in the Smokies…

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Names of places throughout the Blue Ridge country pay tribute to the familiar wildlife of the region: Bear Wallow Stand…

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This past weekend’s sudden drop in overnight temperatures into the high 20s (26 degrees and 28 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, at…

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“... the mellowing year marks its periods of decline with a pageantry

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“On a morning in October, when a light mist hung over the pond, a mink appeared following this path beside…

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Acorns are elegant. They are one of our most beautiful fruits, sometimes produced in such numbers by the varied oak…

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An ancient Chinese philosopher once admonished his listeners to “Study the familiar!” Ancient Chinese philosophers were always admonishing people to…

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Usually I sit on the front deck of our house for a while after getting home from work. Then, before…

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When writing about the natural world, I prefer to write about specific natural areas, plants, and animals here in the…

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For me, the fall season is one of the most invigorating times to get out in the woods and prowl…

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Do you have chinquapins growing on your property or in your vicinity? If so, you’re fortunate. For my money, “the…

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The come back of the wild turkey in the southern mountains in recent years is one of the notable success…

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From time to time, I like to reflect upon the plant hunters, botanists and horticulturalists that first entered these mountains…

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Scott Weidensaul, who lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania, is one of my favorite nature writers. His Mountains of the…

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Now is the perfect time to plan a mountain getaway excursion in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of…

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To myself, mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery; in them, and in the forms of…

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For me, those plants found here in the Smokies region that have verified practical human uses are, in the long…

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