Botanical Survey of Whispering Hills
The Whispering Hills Tract is bounded on the north by ridge and on the south by a stream (creek) and north-facing bluff. The lower slopes of the tract are dominated by rich-site mixed hardwoods such as beech (Fagus grandifolia), white ash, white oak (Quercus alba), red oak (Quercus rubra), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), hickories (Carya spp.), large loblolly pines (Pinus taeda), and Florida maple (Acer barbatum). Blue beech (Carpinus caroliniana), chalk maple (Acer leucoderme), and saplings of the canopy species dominate the understory. The ground layer is rich is species such as bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), little sweet betsy (Trillium cuneatum), lopseed (Phryma leptostachya), and black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), Some of the canopy beeches here along the stream are nearly 30 inches in diameter (dbh).
As one moves upslope into drier, rich woods. Small rock outcrops and boulder fields are found. Here, beech is still present, represented by smaller, fewer trees. Good white oak and white ash occur in the canopy. Dogwood (Cornus florida), red bud, and chalk maple are in the fairly open understory. In the ground layer, bloodroot and lopseed are still common, along with scattered clumps of Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica) and one clump of the rare tripartite viola (Viola tripartita var . glaberrima). In openings, rock outcrop and boulders have large ebony spleenworts (Asplenium platyneuron) in their crevices.
To the northeast upslope, loblolly pines are mixed with white oak and other hardwood species. The understory is somewhat weedy, but redbud again is abundant and forms thickets, indicating high calcium soils. Farther northwest near the ridge boundary, pine-mixed hardwoods are present and dominant. Several light gaps and open fields within the Whispering Hills Tract are dominated by agricultural grasses such as red fescue (Festuca rubra) and ruderal wildflowers such as ox-eye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum).
L. L. Gaddy, Ph.D, Terra Incognita
Click here for a preliminary checklist of the Vascular Plant species of Whispering Hills, Troup County, GA