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 Blackjack Oaks trip, contact Mitzi Stewart ([email protected]).
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 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/
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
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.
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).
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.
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!
The Upstate Chapter participated in the Southern Home & Garden Show in Greenville March 4-6. Steve Marlow worked his usual magic in pulling together a great booth filled with information sheets and a lovely selection of native plants provided by Carolina Wild (Anderson, SC). SC NPS provided 26 volunteers for a total of 23 hours of Show time, and the volunteers collected 44 names of folks interested in native plants. The new “Wild Plants on the Rabbit” brochure was especially popular with booth visitors.
A new invasive plant species that appears to be poised to be a terrible invasive in moist, nutrient-rich situations across eastern North America has been documented in two counties in South Carolina: fig buttercup, also called lesser celandine (Ficaria verna, formerly Ranunculus ficaria).
Because of concern that this plant may be establishing footholds along waterways in other counties, the SC Native Plant Society is enlisting the efforts of people across the state to scout areas near them during March and April. A training video can be seen at
A workshop is also planned, to be held March 21 at Lake Conestee Nature Park in Greenville:
What is an invasive species? An invasive species is an introduced plant or animal with the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside its native range, and which is believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy and/or human health.
In an effort to to raise awareness and identify solutions to invasive species issues, the week of February 22–28 has been designated as National Invasive Species Awareness Week.
Kudzu (Pueraria montana), “the plant that ate the South”, is an example that readily comes to mind. Introduced to the United States as an ornamental and heavily promoted for erosion control, it now covers about 8 million acres of land in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, and costs an estimated $500 million a year in the U.S. in control efforts and the damage it causes to forest productivity.
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is an invasive insect introduced to the East Coast in the 1950s, Already it has killed huge numbers of hemlocks in the Southern Appalachians, and foresters as far north as Maine are now battling the destructive pest. The hemlock is a foundational species in the riparian and cove habitats of southern mountains, and the ecological ramifications of its loss impact such things as stream flow, water temperature, and the survival of eastern brook trout.
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is an invasive aquatic plant that was first found in Lake Marion in 1982 and now covers over 55,000 acres in the state. Indeed, Hydrilla has become a major obstacle to fishing, swimming, boating, hydroelectric generation, and irrigation in slow-moving waters from Connecticut to Texas.
A list of ways to observe National Invasive Species Awareness Week can be downloaded from the official website (www.nisaw.org). Their suggestions include “clean, drain and dry your boat trailer and gear every time you leave a body of water”, “learn to recognize common invaders and keep an eye out for signs of new ones”, “join an eradication effort”, “let your lawmakers know your opinions about the impact of invasive species on our natural heritage”, “replace your invasive landscape plants with native alternatives”, and “become a citizen scientist”.
Please help SCNPS by donating items for the SILENT AUCTION as part of the upcoming 2014 conference on the campus of The Historic Penn Conference Center Beaufort County (Dates: October 31-November 2, 2014).
We are requesting that members consider donating and bringing items that can be sold in the silent auction at the conference in order to raise money towards conference expenses and to support activities of the Society; as well as for the fun of it! If anyone has an item or can acquire a donated item, please contact me (Sudie) with the item details prior to the conference and plan to bring the item to the Penn Center for the auction (auction will be Saturday evening, but items can be on display starting Friday evening). Please only bring items (or groups/baskets of items) with a value of over $25. Item ideas include plants (as always!), artwork, books, gardening tools or materials, birding/hiking/outdoor adventure equipment or gadgets, gourmet/local/homemade food or drink (jams, relishes, honey, coffee, etc.), donated vacations/guided tours, hikes, paddle trips, etc., botany tools (plant press, hand lens?). Items with values less than $25 can be grouped together for a higher value.
All I need ahead of time is the item name and/or short description, person donating, monetary value estimate, and then later for the item (s) to be brought to the conference. Thanks!!!
Sudie Daves Thomas; Tel: 803-664-0806; [email protected]
The unidentified plant images are coming in much more quickly because of the arrival of Spring! I’ll try to keep up with identifying them all…
I hope you all will look at them and enjoy!
I just want to remind everyone that I am still available to attempt to identify any plants you may have from a digital image, here on this site. It has been slow this last year! If you do not wish to put the image on our site, you can still send it to me privately at [email protected], and let me know if you want the answer to be private or not [you can also indicate that if you want to send it to the site]. I used to do all of them by email, and this current site was just a faster way to do it at times – but I like to try to identify plants of most kinds on or off the site [not mushrooms, mosses, algae or other non-vascular plants, however] and you are welcome to send images to me.
I enjoy a challenge.
–Steve Hill [Ph.D Botanist] SCNPS