Many theories exist about the origin of the name Shenandoah. Some historians reasoned that the name Shenandoah comes from three Indian names: Senedo, Cenantua and Sherando. The Senedo tribe was a forgotten tribe conquered by the Iroquois.
The Shawnee name Cenantua actually referred to the Massanutten Mountains range that bisects the Shenandoah Valley. An Iroquois chief named Sherando became legendary when he fought off other Indian tribes from the coastal regions.
History Professor, Dr. Joe Whitehorne, says the Iroquois Skahentowane was the likely root of the source. It refers to a great meadow or “big flat place” often with special reference to game animals. The description fits and one can see how easily their spoken word to untrained settlers ears would be transformed into the word “Shenandoah”.
Legend has it that the heavens placed the brightest stars in the winding river and hence proclaimed the Shenandoah as “Daughter of the Stars”. On nights of the full moon you can gaze into the Great Valley and still see those stars twinkling in the winding river below. This legend may have been a fanciful modern legend made up to impress visitors but It is still a fitting tribute to this remarkable ribbon of rock and life.
Renowned for its grace, simplicity and beauty the large-flowered trillium is one of the most beautiful of the spring wildflowers. So recognized and admired, the Shenandoah National Park Association adopted the Large Flowered Trillium as their logo. Trilliums often grow in large colonies and can cover entire hillsides creating a carpet of waving snow.
The white flower petals gradually fade into a subtle pastel pink color of spring often with maroon streaks coursing through the petals. The showy foliage and floral parts of trillium are counted in multiples of three with three petals, three sepals, and three leaves thus the appropriate prefix “tri” which means three.
The number three denotes a universal symbolism of perfection and harmony thus another common name for this plant is Trinity Flower. The rest of the Latin name, Trillium grandiflorum, tells a lot about the plant. It has large three inch grandiose flowers hence the name “grandiflorum”. It was traditionally placed in the lily family “Lilium” and is often called “White Wood Lily” by the mountain folks.
Sometimes piebald fawns are born that have splotches of white and brown coloring. True albinos have no brown coloration at all and have pink eyes as they lack the gene for normal color pigmentation. Nevertheless, even being “mostly white” makes concealment difficult from predators. One piebald or leucistic doe has become famous around the Skyland lodge area and the staff have named her “Dolly”. Some of her offspring have been normally pigmented while others were partially white.
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