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Bob Stelloh | profile | all galleries >>  places... >>  Curtis Creek... tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

 Curtis Creek...

Ed Collins, Vivian Abney and Bob Stelloh visited the Curtis Creek area on 7/6/02. This is a botanically diverse area just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, reached via Forest Service Road 482 to the south at BRP milepost 347.6. The area is known for Turkey Beard, Ginger, Trillium, Galax, Trailing Arbutus and Ground Pine, as well as Fraser Magnolia, Carolina Hemlock and many other native plants.

Most importantly, it is the home of the well-known "red max" - a single plant of Rhododendron maximum with deep bluish red flowers and stems, and reddish outlines along the leaf midribs. It has been known for years, and was visited by Joseph Gable and other notables in the mid-1940s. This plant is probably a seedling or shoot of the now-dead original. It is several inches in diameter at the base, about 10' high by 7' wide, growing at an angle. In 1995 the Forest Service cut down a large hemlock shading it, at the request of Ed Collins, and the plant now appears healthy. Seed from the plant has been distributed world-wide for years, and some of the seedlings may have the same characteristics as the parent.

While it is an easy quarter-mile hike to the red max from the trail head, there is no path to it and no easy way to describe its location. The best way to find it is to be part of a hike led by someone who has been there before, such as Bob Stelloh. Expect to go in mid-June to early-July see it in flower (this trip was about a week past peak bloom), and sometime in the fall to collect seed.
FS 482 intersection
MP 347.6, 4048'

FS 482 intersection
MP 347.6, 4048'

Forest Service Road 482 to Old Fort NC - road to the red max.
MP 347.6, 4048'

Forest Service Road 482 to Old Fort NC - road to the "red max".
MP 347.6, 4048'

Ed Collins, Vivian Abney getting ready for the trail

Ed Collins, Vivian Abney getting ready for the trail

going in at the unmarked trail head

going in at the unmarked trail head

note the plant shape and size

note the plant shape and size

taking a big cutting . . . just kidding!

taking a big cutting . . . just kidding!

07060010s.jpg 07060013s.jpg
07060016s.jpg note the dark outlines within the leaves

note the dark outlines within the leaves

note the red wood in the stem

note the red wood in the stem

a more normal pink R. maximum

a more normal pink R. maximum

Castanea pumila (Chinquapin)

Castanea pumila (Chinquapin)

Castanea pumila (Chinquapin)

Castanea pumila (Chinquapin)

Robinia hispida (Bristly Locust)

Robinia hispida (Bristly Locust)

a completely normal white R. maximum

a completely normal white R. maximum

Magnolia fraseri (Fraser Magnolia, Mountain Magnolia, Umbrella Tree)

Magnolia fraseri (Fraser Magnolia, Mountain Magnolia, Umbrella Tree)

Cladonia cristatella (British Soldiers) ~ 1/4'' high

Cladonia cristatella (British Soldiers) ~ 1/4'' high

almost back

almost back

and back in time for lunch!

and back in time for lunch!