By William T. Hathaway

Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

If anyone wishes to sally forth in search of unusual native wildflowers, I suggest they head for the Mountain Road (VA 778) which stretches along the southern slopes of Smith Mountain. This dirt road passes through rich wooded ravines on one side and swampy, rocky areas on the other side. Be prepared to stroll a fair distance from your car when searching either roadside site.

The Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) is rarely found in any other location within Pittsylvania County. Some of the soggy roadside hollows are filled with clusters of cinnamon and royal ferns with an occasional rare wildflower nestled nearby.

One must beware of the timber rattlesnake, which doesn't enjoy being disturbed in its native habitat. It is interesting to note that most of the timber rattlers have been pushed back to the western and northwestern sections of Pittsylvania County. However, Mr. McCormick, a successful tobacco farmer and motorcycle enthusiast, has reported having seen a timber rattlesnake near his farm a few miles east of Markham in the northeastern section of Pittsylvania County. It makes sense that timber rattlesnakes still exist in isolated, relict populations.