Pretty, Persistent Parasite — and its Pollinator

If it weren’t for the foot traffic, every inch of the Smokies would be carpeted with plants. Case in point: this scrappy little Squaw Root, Conophilus americana, that I found growing in the middle of Metcalfe Bottoms picnic area last week.  It’s a non-photosynthetic flowering plant, which is parasitic on the roots of woody plants, usually oaks. To think that this plant was able to flower and successfully attract an insect pollinator 10 feet from a busy grill and picnic table surrounded by an energetic family.  And what pollinator is this? A quick search of the web turned up only “black white spotted butterfly,”  but I know there must be a better name. “Take only pictures and leave only footprints,” they say. And watch out for the wildflowers popping up absolutely everywhere!

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