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Trail riders in Big South Fork National Park here in Jamestown, Tennessee, may have noticed an unusual sight in the past few weeks. It looks like the woods have been "TP'd!" Strewn all over the ground, everywhere you look, are what appear to be...well...pieces of toilet paper. What they are, in actual fact, are the fallen leaves of the Bigleaf Magnolia, a deciduous tree notable for its very large leaves and flowers. These giant leaves can grow up to three feet long and a foot wide; they have a pale silvery underside, almost white.
I had never seen one of these trees until I moved to the Big South Fork area and it's no wonder. Although the Bigleaf Magnolia is found from southern Ohio to the Gulf Coast, it is not common in any part of Tennessee except on the Cumberland Plateau and a few areas along the state's borders. Growing in clumps, it's also known as an umbrella tree but locals call them "Wahoos."
The tree itself is distinctive but it is the flowers, which bloom toward the end of May or early in June, that command attention. They can be a foot wide, or more, and have six white petals surrounding a purple and yellow center. Like all magnolias, they are extraordinarily fragrant. The large leaves and blossoms are an indication that this is a primitive species. Also, the blossoms are pollinated by beetles, which pre-date bees and butterflies. This species, magnolia macrophylla, boasts the largest simple leaf and single flower of any native plant in North America.
The Bigleaf Magnolia prefers moist soil and is usually seen in the ravines so common in the Big South Fork area. The trees generally reach a height of 40-60 feet and, because they are "understory" trees, they thrive in the dappled sunlight they receive as it filters through the canopy above. Riders who are observant will also notice the ground littered, at this time of year, with cone-shaped pods which contain the large red seeds.
I live minutes from the Cumberland Trailhead into Big South Fork National Park, in Spruce Creek Acres, an equestrian community that abuts the park itself. Horses are a major part of daily life here and this is a very active, supportive horse-oriented community. It is a gift to work as a realtor here, listing horse properties and selling horse properties to horse people! We joke that I've probably done more real estate on horseback than off!
If you want to "live where you love to ride," let me help you find YOUR Big South Fork horse property .
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.