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Hidden botanical wonders


Renee S. Morrison, Assistant Director of Jacksonville State University Field Schools and DeSoto State Park botanist Brittney M. Hughes will lead a trip to “The Pocket” on Pigeon Mountain in Georgia on April 1st at 9:30 a.m. to explore the beauty behind the wildflowers that grow there.

Tickets cost $10 and persons who wish to go must register through JSU Field Schools in the EPIC Department at 256-782-8010. If anyone needs help with transportation, Morrison will depart from JSU in a 12 passenger van which people can board at 7:30 a.m. Others may follow the van in their own vehicles or meet at DeSoto State Park Nature Center at 9:30 a.m.

The shuttle and convoy will leave DeSoto State Park at 9:30 a.m. and will arrive at the “Pocket” in about an hour. The drive will take participants through a historic village and across a small creek.

Participants will then travel on the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail in the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area as Hughes talks about the wildflowers and purposes behind the abundant flowers. The convoy will arrive back at DeSoto State Park around 2:30 p.m.

“This is an excellent photo opportunity for people who enjoy unique and beautiful plants. It is an easy to moderate short interpretive hike with an optional moderate to difficult hike to a waterfall.” said Morrison, “The area inspires photography, poetry and brings a sense of well-being to my soul. It is like getting a glimpse of the Creator's art palette.”

Hughes tells stories of ways Native Americans used the same flowers as treatments. “I am always fascinated by Brittney Hughes' plant stories and, like a child hearing a beloved story, listen as she tells of which items were used by Native Americans and which were used by settlers.”

“The ‘pocket’ was formed when an ancient cave system collapsed due to stream erosion. The waterfall at the top end of the site still flows over and around stalagmites and cave fossils,” explained Morrison.

The program is for people from ages 18 and older.

Botanical Wonders has been a yearly tradition for nine years. JSU Field Schools have been partnering with DeSoto State Park for this one-of-a-kind experience.

Brittney McAllister Hughes, Naturalist at DeSoto State Park, proposed the first trip because she is an expert botanist and the site is a rare one for spotting diversity and abundance of wildflowers in the area during this time of year.

For more information, contact Renee Morrison at or call the Field Schools EPIC department at 256-782-8010.

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