Field trips to South Carolina prairies

 

October 20 and 21, 2017

In celebration of South Carolina’s Native Plant Week (Oct 16 – 20) the Midlands and Piedmont Chapters of the SC Native Plant Society are hosting field trips to some uniquely interesting natural native plant communities in our area.

South Carolina has a lot of natural diversity for a state of our size, and two of the most interesting sites are the Post Oak Savanna and the Blackjack Oak Savanna.

The Post Oak Savanna is a 50-acre spot in the Long Cane District of the Sumter National Forest. It is located on shallow stony soils in what geologists call the Carolina Slate Belt. These soils restrict rooting depth, so trees on this site are mainly short-statured hardwoods like post oak (Quercus stellata). Larger trees occasionally establish, but with shallow roots, they are subject to wind-throw. Thus the tree canopy is thin, allowing native grasses and wildflowers to establish underneath. So in a region of almost complete forest cover, we find short, thinly spaced trees, and lots of native grasses and wildflowers, similar those in Midwestern tall grass prairies.

The SC Dept. of Natural Resources’ Blackjack Oak Savanna is found on the edge of Rock Hill, in an area of basic rock geology. These basic rocks break down into high calcium, high magnesium soils with near neutral pH. These soils contain a clay type that swells when wet, and shrinks and cracks when dry. This shrinking and swelling is damaging to tree roots. Blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica), another short-statured tree, is more tolerant of these conditions than most other trees. Again, short, thinly spaced trees allow maintenance of native grasses and wildflowers. These two sites contain a large number of prairie-type grasses and wildflowers (some quite rare in our State) that persist naturally, and are unique in the largely forested Piedmont of SC.

The Midlands group will lead a trip to the Post Oak Savanna on Friday, Oct. 20. Meet the group at the Walmart Superstore on Bush River Rd, just off I-20 at 9:30, to carpool to the site, arriving about 10:30. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes, and bring water and a snack. There is a half-mile level walk to the site.

On Saturday, October 21 the Piedmont group will lead a trip to the Blackjacks site. The 10:00 meeting spot in Rock Hill is at the Blackjack Oaks Heritage Preserve parking area off Blackmon Rd. There is limited parking, so please carpool.

For detailed directions to the Post Oaks, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/cs/recarea?ss=110812&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=FSE_003738&navid=110240000000000&pnavid=110000000000000&position=generalinfo&recid=47217&ttype=recarea&pname=Post%20Oak%20Savanna

For detailed directions to the Rock Hill Blackjacks, go to https://www.sctrails.net/trails/trail/rock-hill-blackjacks-heritage-preserve

For further information on the Post Oaks trip, contact Marigold Wilson ([email protected]) or Bill McCullough ([email protected]).

For further information on the Blackjack Oaks trip, contact Mitzi Stewart ([email protected]).

BANNED in South Carolina!

Fig Buttercup, also known as Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna/Ranunculus ficaria), has recently been added to South Carolina’s list of regulated pest plant species

Three species have recently been added to South Carolina’s list of regulated pest plant species (also referred to as the Plant Pest List):

  • Fig Buttercup, also known as Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna/Ranunculus ficaria),
  • Crested Floating Heart (Nymphoides cristata), and
  • Yellow Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata).

It is illegal to buy, sell, trade, or possess a regulated pest plant species within the state; if it is on your property you are legally obligated to remove it.

For the three most recently added species, these regulations are now in effect.

The state plant pest list is maintained and enforced by Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry and can be viewed at this link: www.clemson.edu/invasives

Many of the plants on this list are not familiar to us — and for that we can be grateful. Regulators on the state or federal level have seen how they have behaved in other areas and managed to keep them (mostly) out of our state.

On the other hand, familiar invasive thugs such as Kudzu, Chinese Privet, Tree of Heaven, and Japanese Stiltgrass are noticeably absent from the list. Why? Because by the time their invasiveness was acknowledged, they were so widespread that banning would no longer be effective. It would be like closing the barn door after the cows have gotten out (or in this case, in).

This underscores the importance of timely regulations and knowledgeable and alert regulators — as well as the importance of each of us paying attention to the identity of the plants we see taking up residence in our green spaces! Learn more at the Upstate Chapter’s upcoming meeting in Landrum on Oct 17.

Fig Buttercup, also known as Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna/Ranunculus ficaria), has recently been added to South Carolina’s list of regulated pest plant speciesFig Buttercup is an early-blooming perennial with showy yellow flowers, which gardeners sometimes confuse with the native Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris). Recently, its behavior has transitioned to that of an aggressive invasive species that threatens bottomlands throughout its adopted range.
Its 2013 discovery at Lake Conestee Nature Park was the first documentation of its naturalizing in South Carolina; since then, SCNPS volunteers have worked every year to eradicate it there and in the waterways upstream. An infestation has also been found in York County.

Learn more at http://scnps.org/citizen-science-invasive-fig-buttercup/

Yellow Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata) has recently been added to South Carolina’s list of regulated pest plant speciesCrested Floating Heart (Nymphoides cristata) and Yellow Floating Heart (N. peltata) are aquatic plants often found in water gardens, which are the source of many of the introductions.

 

Crested Floating Heart (Nymphoides cristata) has recently been added to South Carolina’s list of regulated pest plant species

Photo by Keith Bradley.

Crested Floating Heart was first detected at the southeastern end of Lake Marion (Orangeburg County) in 2006, which was the first time that free-living populations of the plant had been found in the US outside of Florida. It has spread throughout the Santee Cooper Lake System (Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie) with a total of some 6,000 acres infested as of October 2012. If not controlled, biologists estimate that it could ultimately infest as much as 40% of the 160,000-acre lake system.

Learn more at www.invasive.org/publications/CrestedFloatingHeart.pdf

 

 

Upstate Native Plant Sale, April 22

The Native Plant Society Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale is just 10 days away on Saturday, April 22.
The sale runs from 9am to 1pm at Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville.  There is a good selection of native trees, shrubs, perennial wildflowers, ferns, and vines, and a few grasses.

On the SCNPS website you can now find a list of the plants that will be available.  Go to www.scnps.org.  Click on Activities/calendar.  The go to April 22 and click on the sale.  There you will find all the details about the sale including a link to the inventory list.  Here is a link to take you directly to the page:    http://scnps.org/event/upstate-native-plant-sale-2017.  Check out the inventory and make a list of plants you want for YOUR property.  This list does NOT include what our guest vendors will have.

Seven guest vendors will be on hand with their plants and plant products.  They are Carnivorous Plants  (Jeff Miller), Carolina Wild (Greg and Christina Bruner), Earthen organics (Kristen Beigay), Natives, By George (Betsy George), Natives Plus Nursery (Richard Davis), Natures Organics (David Senn), and Wildside Garden (Joe Townsend).

There will be advisors on hand to help you select plants.  We will also have a table of wonderful books about native plants and gardening with them.   Dr. Jan Haldeman will be there to discuss the issues of exotic invasive plants and to show samples.  Check, cash and credit cards are accepted.

Conestee Park is just a three minute drive south from the Mauldin Road exit from I-85.  It is near the old Braves Stadium.

 

Rocky Shoals Spider Lily Site Protected

Rocky Shoals Spider Lily

William Bartram called it Pancratium fluitans, we call it Hymenocallis coronaria, but either way the Rocky Shoals Spider Lily is a large, beautiful and rare lily that inhabits shoals and rapids in piedmont streams.  Agricultural sedimentation and hydropower development of shoals have drastically reduced the occurrence of this spectacular native plant.

sharpton-lily-photo1_674x385

McCormick County Site

In collaboration with the South Carolina Native Plant Society, a site with excellent habitat on 12.8 acres of land and stream bed on Stevens Creek in McCormick County has been purchased by the Naturaland Trust. The stream arises and flows through a largely undeveloped, forested watershed, so the water quality in the stream is good.  Several native fish species and a diverse community of aquatic insects, as well as some native mussel species are found in the stream.  The lilies site comprises approximately 150 yards of shoals and rapids in the Creek.

The land contains mature pine timber as well as diverse mixed hardwoods.  There is a turn-of-the-century grist mill with hydro-power structure and drive train largely intact but non-functional, and 200 yards of mill race canal. Just upstream from the property is an intact impoundment structure and gating for control of water flow to the mill.  There is electricity and water on-site, as well as a toilet facility (attached to the mill building).

Immediate Need

Although funds are available for the land purchase, additional funds are needed for closing costs and a conservation easement that will ensure the site is protected forever.

img_5109-lisa-lord

Other Costs and Site Improvements

There are improvements to the site that will be needed once the property is acquired. The SCNPS will be the primary manager of the property. Vegetation management will be minimal, probably limited to removing a few trees not native to the site, and a preliminary reduction of invasive species using manual control measures.  Occasional controlled burns may be implemented if a workable and safe fire plan can be developed.

The mill needs a new roof to protect the structural integrity of the building.  A bridge across the millrace canal will need to be replaced and upgraded.  A metal grill will need to be installed over the open mill penstock, for the safety of visitors.  We are contemplating building an open-sided pavilion to house meetings, workshops, etc.

If you would like to contribute to this important project, please fill out the donation form below. After submitting your information, you will be redirected to PayPal to securely process your transaction. Thank you!


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