Spring Sightings at Huntsville State Park


Let’s switch gears just a bit and return to mid-March and east Texas at Huntsville State Park. We took a three-day weekend and headed off an hour north of the house to this state park. It’s one of my favorites and so easily accessible off of I-45—and it’s huge, in addition to being adjacent to Sam Houston National Forest.

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I’m lumping all of our hikes together into one post because I didn’t take a ton of photos. And I’m surprised I barely took any photos at our campsite. We were in the Raven Hill camping area at campsite 21 which backed up to a wooded area separating the other loop in the camping area from ours. It turned out to be a great exploration area for Forest and a nice cut-through to get to the bathroom which was up the hill by the other camping loop.

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Roundleaf Ragwort, Packera obovata

Oh boy, between Inks Lake and Huntsville SP, I did a lot of digging and looking at the Packera and Senecio genera because from a glance they look almost identical. Thankfully the most common ones of the genera (in Texas) are fairly easy to differentiate once you get passed the flowers and look at the rest of the plant, but now I feel a bit better about trying to figure out which is which.

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I’m still trying to figure out this moth that I found on our tent one day.

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Hercules’ Club, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

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Forest playing along the Loblolly Trail behind the Nature Center. It’s a short loop and as Chris stated when we were hiking there was actually a lot of short leaf pine on the trail and he thought it should have been named Short Leaf Trail instead!

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Black Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis

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I managed to hike for an hour or so by myself on two days and one of the days I walked off trail to just scope things out, looking for random spring ephemerals and came across this can.

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And then this balloon which I packed out.

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Arrowleaf Violet, Viola sagittata

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Rusty Blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum

When I came across this viburnum blooming I stopped and just oohed at it for a few minutes. It was a beautiful specimen!

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Baptisia sp. I was also excited to see these baptisia that I completely missed on my first trip down this trail, at a trail junction. I happened to stop and tie my shoe as a group of hikers were passing and looked up and saw a cluster of them.

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Black Snakeroot, Sanicula canadensis

We have this growing in our yard and I’m always stumped as to what it is. I had come cross the name once before on someone’s Flickr page but the name has escaped me since then. But now I know! I see this plant from time to time when we’re hiking. It isn’t super common but enough that I’ve noticed it and always remember it’s the same thing I see in the yard. And now I’m super curious of black swallowtails will use it as a host plant since it is in the Apiaceae family.

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Slender Yellow Woodsorrel, Oxalis dillenii

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On Saturday afternoon we made a loop of part of the Triple C Trail and the Chinquapin Trail because the day before Forest had really wanted to hike on the ‘green trail’. We’d hiked on part of the Triple C trail on the other side of the park once. It is really just a perimeter road around the a large portion of the boundary of the park. I was interested because we hadn’t hiked on that section before and I was curious what was back there—plus I was looking to get away from the crowds a bit. And I say ‘crowds’ loosely—it wasn’t packed but the trails closer in were busier than the ones further out.

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Juvenal’s Duskywing, Erynnis juvenalis

We found solitude along the trail and several butterflies, including this one that I didn’t identify until later. It had been a cloudy day the previous day and that morning was a bit cloudy too so all of that sun had the butterflies out. We even saw a monarch, too.

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But before we saw the duskywing we saw a zebra swallowtail! I shot a series of crappy photos with my camera because I had the wrong lens on and we meandered down the trail. Then we spotted it again when we took the service road to meet up with the Chinquapin Trail.

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I actually took this photo, which you can make out the butterfly in the left third of the photo just above the middle. I zoomed and cropped it so you could even see it. We’re on the far western part of the range for them here and I can’t recall ever seeing one despite that they are prevalent in Florida. I’m sure I saw one there and just don’t recall it. I was pretty excited for this find!

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Southern Pearly-Eye, Lethe portlandia

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Just before we left the service road for the trail and woods again I saw this butterfly land. This time I did have the long lens on but Forest was antsy to move on and so I didn’t get to move in closer for a better shot.

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Bulbous Cress, Cardamine bulbosa

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum

This was the only patch we found while on our hikes. I was kind of surprised.

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May apple flower, Podophyllum peltatum
And I’m going to have to go back through my photos because I know I took photos of several patches of may apples. I guess I just didn’t edit them? Not sure what happened!

All in all it was a great camping trip. I loved our campsite location, though the site itself was a bit sloped so we we had some trouble finding a flat spot for the tent. There was a boy and a girl who happened to be staying in trailer with what I presumed to be their grandparents at the site next to us and Forest finally befriended the girl who was 3. She was enamored with the bubbles we’d brought and so they had became campsite friends. The girls’ poor brother was about 10 and I think he felt left out when he lost his sister to another playmate. They left Saturday late morning and Forest was upset he’d lost his friend. We told him he was going to have plenty of campsite friends over the coming years—especially when he learned to ride his bike!

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One thought on “Spring Sightings at Huntsville State Park

  1. Rebecca says:

    I love Hercules’ Club ever since I learned about in in a tree ID class n Texas. We have one growing in our garden. Looks like a great trip!

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