Last Saturday’s hike into Lost Cove, co-sponsored by the Herbarium and the Tennessee Native Plant Society and led by herbarium director Jon Evans, was a great success! Not only did we see several rare plants in bloom and find a new species for our Domain plant list. We also saw a couple of very impressive caterpillars munching on host plants. This one pictured, the caterpillar of the Io moth, was on a Carolina buckthorn, Frangula caroliniana, one of its many host plants. The other, the giant swallowtail larva, was feasting on leaves of hoptree, Ptelea trifoliata.
“The new species?” you may ask. It’s hairy sunflower, Helianthus hirsutus, spied by Tennessee Natural Heritage Botanist Todd Crabtree, who was one of the 22 wildflower aficionados on this late summer hike into one of the Domain’s most beautiful and biologically diverse areas.