Plants Around Banning
The River Birch is native to the Southeastern United States and usually resides along water. River Birch trees can grow to over 75 feet tall and have a trunk diameter of over two feet. The leaves on a River Birch can reach a canopy diameter of 40 to 60 feet wide. River Birches are fast growing trees and can live up to 150 years.
River Birch trees have very unique bark which can serve many different purposes. The bark of a river birch has a paper like texture which if dried is excellent for fire starting! The bark naturally peels as the tree grows older and can present various color accents in the winter. The sap can be used in making syrups and mixed drinks. Native Americans used River Birch to make canoes, wig wams, bowls, and paper for writing!
Big Leaf Magnolia
As you walk the trails at Historic Banning Mills, you are sure to see one of the most unique and beautiful trees anywhere to be found. The Big Leaf Magnolia grows in rich wooded sloped areas. They can grow up to 50 feet tall with a spread of 25 to 30 feet wide.
What makes the Big Leaf Magnolia so unique? They have the largest leaf and flower of any Native American Tree. The leaves can grow 12 to 25 inches in length and 7 to 12 inches wide!
Big Leaf Magnolia’s provide food for birds, small mammals, and deer. Cherokee Indians used to use the bark for analgesic properties and for upset stomachs! The Big Leaf Magnolia was discovered by the French Naturalist, Andre Michaut in 1746.
The Galax, also known as the “Wand Plant” or “Beetle Weed” can be found around Banning Mills all year long. Galax grows in cool moist areas and upland woodlands. They grow in colonies by rhizomes and seeds.
Galax has a wide, heart shaped leaf about 1 – 3 inches wide. The leaf is a mid to dark green in spring and summer buy many leaves turn a reddish purple color in the fall and winter!
During May and June the gala will sometimes grow small white flowers. What makes the Galax so special? It’s on the threatened species list and takes nearly 4 years to reach a 3 inch spread. Galax also used to be used for healing wounds and can be made into an infusion for healing kidney problems!
The Fire Pink
The Fire Pink or Silene Virginia is a wildflower that can be found as you walk the trails of Historic Banning Mills. It is an herbaceous clump forming perennial. It grows well in partial shade with well drained, rocky, acidic soil. The Fire Pink can grow 1 – 2 feet high with a bright red flower that is about 1.5 inches across.
The flower has five petals that flare out from a tubular base. Each petal is notched into two parts with pointed lobes. The beautiful red flower can be seen blooming between April and June but are short lived. This is a really cool flower. The stems have sticky hairs which trap small insects but the Fire Pink is not a true carnivorous plant. You might even notice butterflies and bees hanging out around the Fire Pink, as they love the nectar, while small birds often visit the flower to eat it’s seeds!