Backyard Wilderness Blog
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September 2010
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September 15, 2010

Said good-bye to the dozen or so squirrels I had befriended in the park around the Chinquapins, and headed to Southern Pines, NC to walk the forests there. What a change of environments! While most of the varieties of trees and plants common in central Vermont were present in northern Virginia, the flora of the sand hills of North Carolina was surprisingly different.
This little guy was the boldest of all the squirrels in the park, taking food from my hand the first time we met.
The sand hills are appropriately named as shown by the pure white "soil" seen in the path above. How plants survive this dry heat is a mystery to me, but here I saw long-leaf pines, wild persimmon trees, and several varieties of oaks.
Southern fox grapes, (Vitus rotundifolia,) are a refreshing, energizing treat on a hot, dry North Carolina day! Although the musky taste upon biting into one is a real surprise, the rich, merlot like sweetness that follows is fantastic!
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Common greenbriar, (Smilax rotundifolia,) vines grow in abundance throughout this forest. The young shoots and new leaves are edible.
What you see in the photo to the
right is called Prickly Pear cactus.
If you look closely you can see
spines on each leaf. But what you
can't see are the millions of tiny
"prickles" on the surface of each
leaf that will imbed themselves in
your skin causing terrible irritation
for days or weeks because they
are nearly impossible to remove! Prickly Pear is a refreshing edible when, while wearing gloves, you peel the leaves.
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