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Two botanical stunners

On recent forays into southern Ohio's Shawnee State Forest, our expedition was fortunate to catch two of our most beautiful native plants in peak bloom.

Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens. Avid gardeners may recognize this one, as it is commonly sold in the nursery trade. Ohio is at the extreme northern limits of its natural range, and I believe this population - far from the beaten track in a remote part of this 65,000 acre forest - is perhaps Ohio's only more or less indisputably native population.

Cultivated plants certainly jump the garden fence and go wild, and this honeysuckle is one of them. However, this site is a Bermuda Triangle of disjunct southern plants at their northern limits, and the Trumpet Honeysuckle fits nicely with this pattern. Also, it sprang from the seedbank following an intense ice and wind storm several years ago, which dissected the formerly dense forest, and allowed much great light penetration.

No worries about nativeness with this beaut - it is Smooth Phlox, Phlox glaberrima (glay-bear-ee-ma). Such matters are highly subjective, but this one would get my vote as showiest phlox.

Smooth Phlox is not common in Ohio - it is another southerner that barely penetrates north of the Ohio River. We have records from only a half-dozen or so counties, and even in those its distribution is quite patchy and local. In early June in Shawnee, though, Smooth Phlox forms loud conspicuous drifts along forest roads and can't be missed.


Great photo of the phlox, Jim.

Smooth Phlox would also get my vote as the most desirable garden plant! I wish the landscapers would pick up on this one.


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