November 2023 Upstate General Chapter Meeting: Frank Holleman, “Power to the Plants”
The Naturaland Trust and its partners (including the SCNPS) have helped to save thousands of acres of land around the Upstate, many of them home to populations of rare and endangered plant species including the Bunched Arrowhead and Oconee Bells. In November, Frank Holleman (SCNPS board member, attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, president of the Naturaland Trust, and all-around good guy) gave us a fascinating and inspiring talk on the 50 year history of the Trust and its good works. Here’s to 50 more!
Explore the captivating world of lichens with Tricia Kyzer as she exposes the secrets of these remarkable organisms and their essential contributions to our natural world. We will discover the intricate beauty of lichens and learn about their ability to survive extreme environments, why community is essential for their survival, and the role they play as ecosystem architects.
(Program Warning: Presentations such as this have been known to cause an unstoppable desire to examine every lichen in one’s path; prolonged inspection of lichens may cause squint lines and an unquenchable sense of wonder.)
In this presentation Alan explores the rich biological diversity of South Carolina and talk about how we’re still learning about (and learning to see) “the real World” around us. He’ll discuss new tools that are being developed to make it easier to explore the plants growing in the Upstate of South Carolina. In his own words: “There will be pictures of beautiful plants, discussion of how humans identify plants, discussion of why plant names sometimes change, and an introduction to identifying wild plants for the novice and the expert.
June 2023 Upstate General Chapter Meeting: Keith Bradley, “Conservation of South Carolina’s Botanical Heritage: A special Flora and its Future”
In June, State Botanist Keith Bradley presented “Conservation of South Carolina’s Botanical Heritage: A special Flora and its Future,” a talk dedicated to a discussion of the importance of South Carolina’s 77 Heritage Preserves (H.P.), which protect a whopping 111,575 acres statewide.
Where once King Cotton threatened South Carolina’s native landscapes, now King Loblolly is outgrowing and overtaking our Longleaf Pines, which are home to a number of unique species. The Midlands and Lowcountry host other unique plants, such as the May White Azalea. And new plants, such as a sunflower found at the Cartwheel Bay H.P. and a mint found only at the Brasstown Creek H.P. and one other place in Georgia, are still being found.
“We are THE ONLY CUSTODIANS of several species,” Keith told us, “and if we know where the plants are, we can do something about it: We can buy properties, we can do controlled burns, we can implement restorations.”
At our May meeting Dr. Patrick McMillan presented “Three Lifetimes of Experience Exploring and Conserving South Carolina’s Flora,” highlighting some of our state’s most significant rare plants and the current state of play regarding the conservation of them. Along the way he debunked some common myths about native plants (“native plants have native predators and native diseases. And yes, given climate change, they do sometimes need to be watered!”). He also told several amusing stories regarding the making of the new edition of A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina (an absolutely essential book by Dr. McMillan, Richard Porcher, Jr. and Douglas Rayner).
Tim Lee, Interpretive Ranger/Naturalist for the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, gave us “Trillium of The Carolinas,” a rousing presentation (“the more excited I get, the faster I talk, and the more Southern-ese I get!“) on these amazing, long-lived (some are as many as 100 years old!), willfully independent and ornery plants (“Just because I’m a trillium doesn’t mean I HAVE to have three leaves!”).
He brought us up to date on the current debate over trillium’s botanical classification, and shed more light on the plant’s life-cycle, including its pollination and dispersion by bees, native ants, and yellow jackets. He shared photos of the several species found in South Carolina and discussed the natural history of each, with an emphasis on those found in the mountains and Piedmont.
Finally, we learned about the “mystery” trillium – a plant found only (thus far) at Jones Gap State Park, which has a flower like that of a well-known species but also has important structural differences as well as a different bloom time. Its classification is currently a hotbed topic of botanical debate — stay tuned!
March 2023 Upstate General Chapter Meeting: “Regulating the Natural World—Protecting SC from Invasive Species”
Our March speakers were Allison Guggenheimer and Steve Compton on “Regulating the Natural World: Protecting South Carolina from Invasive Species.” Normally we think of “invasives” as species that a) are not native; b) spread rapidly; and c) interfere with our native species. But as Allison and Steve pointed out, it’s much more complicated than that: There are also native invasives, non-native non-invasives, and species that she refers to as “refugee organisms.” On top of that, some non-native species have been here for so long that some of our native critters have come to rely upon them and making them go away could well have a deleterious effect. Oof! It was a rousing, engaging talk, and well worth a look.
On February 17, Kay Wade of Jocassee Wild Outdoor Education presented “Jocassee Gorges: The Perfect Outdoor Classroom!” She began by questioning the premise that, as you get older, you lose your sense of wonder. “Not so!” she says. The throughline in her talk was: ASK QUESTIONS. BE CURIOUS. She explained that Jocassee is a place for renewal, a place where trees get a chance to be trees again, after years of logging and dams. It’s a place where you can experience geology close up, but also a lush rainforest lying not far from desert species that hail from Texas, Arizona, even California. You might see trillium, Oconee bells, Fraser magnolias, bald eagles, carnivorous sundews. Algae inside of a fungus on the side of a rock. Swimming bears. Swimming deer. Swimming squirrels. Bald eagles eating swimming squirrels. A snake eating a fish. A fish eating a snake. A loon hiding underwater for as much as 5 minutes at a time! Bring your walking stick (you never know where you might wind up!). Loupes and binoculars and collection jars are optional but encouraged. In Kay’s words: “We will poke, and poke, and poke some more. And, you will just have a Very Good Day!”
January 2023 Upstate General Chapter Meeting
At our first meeting of 2023, Rick Huffman presented on the geology, flora, fauna, history, and time-scale of the Upstate. Rick also walked us through some of the fascinating history of noteworthy South Carolina explorers who did their “botanizing” during the 18th and 19th centuries. And then he brought it full circle: We are still discovering new species in this, the most diverse place on the globe, sitting astride the oldest fault line on the planet.
Nature-writer and editor Korrin Bishop presented, “Using iNaturalist to Bring the Smokies Alive”. During her presentation, you will learn about iNaturalist. iNaturalist is a citizen science app that goes beyond the basic identification of plants, animals, fungi, and other species. In this talk, writer and avid iNaturalist user Korrin Bishop will cover the app’s wide range of uses through the lens of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).
October 2022 Upstate General Chapter Meeting: “Black River State Park and Water Trails Master Plan and Land Use”
Our speaker for October’s program was Rick Huffman, founder of Earth Design Inc., with over 30 years of experience in landscape design, horticulture, bioengineering, and ecology. He has particular expertise in native plants as they occur in natural models. As founder and past-president of the South Carolina Native Plant Society, he has brought awareness of these natural models to the public through presentations and workshops on a statewide and regional level. The talk he gave us on this occasion was “Black River State Park and Water Trails Master Plan and Land Use.”
Our speaker for September’s program was Dr. Patrick McMillan, who is a well-known naturalist, biologist, and educator. Dr. McMillan gave us an overview of the new book, A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina, that he authored with Richard Porcher, Jr. and Douglas Rayner, and highlight our state’s most significant rare plants.
Greg Lucas, who has worked in conservation education and outreach with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for 32 years, discussed the conservation status of Jocassee Gorges lands, wildlife and plant communities; the status of Sassafras Mountain Overlook; and give a prescribed fire update.
April combines 25 years of plant knowledge to create herbal and foraging courses that return people to local plant medicine. Her goal is to give you the tools you need to have an outside apothecary. She has a Bachelor and Master of Science (emphasis in Botany) Degree, Traditional Herbalism Certification, Two-year Horticulture Degree, and special training in difficult plant taxa and families. More important than all the certificates and degrees-she has a strong connection with plants. She has dedicated her life to serve as a voice for the plants!
The Bunched Arrowhead (Sagittaria fasciculata) is one of the nation’s rarest plants. It is an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, and it exists only in two counties on earth – mostly in Greenville County and some in Henderson County, NC. Frank Holleman, president of Naturaland Trust, describes the plant, its habitat, and the fight to save it.
Rocky Shoals Spider Lily Update (Nov 2021)
Genetic studies in Bunched Arrowhead and Oconee Bells (October 2021)
with Doug Tallamy
Douglas Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, awakened thousands of readers to an urgent situation: wildlife populations are in decline because the native plants they depend on are fast disappearing. His solution? Plant more natives. His sequel to Bringing Nature Home is Nature’s Best Hope. His presentation to the SCNPS in September 2021 was based on this book in which he outlines his vision for a grassroots approach to conservation. Douglas Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. He has taught courses in insect taxonomy, behavioral ecology, humans and nature, and insect ecology.
One Wild Community, Finding our Place in the Wild with Speaker, Tricia Kyzer
Take a photographic journey with naturalist and environmental educator Tricia Kyzer exploring how ecological communities we live in can shape us and become a part of our story and how we can find our place in our wild communities.
About: Tricia Kyzer holds a BA in Elementary Education from North Greenville University and is a Statewide SC Master Naturalist. For the past 15 years Tricia has worked with people of all ages leading them into making their own connections to our wild places.
‘Restoring Two South Carolina Bays with Rare Plants’ by Lisa Lord and Sudie Thomas
Lisa Lord and Sudie Thomas presented on Carolina Bays, which are a fascinating and vital phenomenon of the Atlantic Seaboard, mainly found along the boundary between North and South Carolina. These bays were discovered in the 1930s when aerial photography came into existence. Oval in shape and ranging in length from a few hundred feet to up to 6 miles these depressions have been found to be valuable habitat for our most rare plants and animals.
Lisa Lord, a certified Wildlife Biologist, is presently the Conservation Program Director for the Longleaf Alliance and she is also Chair of the Kingsburg Bay for the SCNPS. Sudie Thomas, Chair of the Lisa Matthews Bay is also a Wildlife Biologist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Both are longtime members of the SCNPS and have been involved have been involved in numerous land management, restoration, and conservation projects.
‘The Southeastern Grasslands Initiative’
with Dr. Dwayne Estes
Dr. Estes provided an extremely informative and interesting introduction to the new SGI program which he chairs. In this video, Estes presents a compelling slide presentation where he explains the historical significance of our grasslands heritage, the hows and whys of the habitat loss over the past 300 years, and what the SGI is doing and planning to do about it.
December 2020 Boones Creek Preservation Area
Submitted by Frank Holleman
President, Naturaland Trust
I once heard Patrick McMillan tell the tale of how the threatened Oconee Bells’ (Shortia glacifolia) got their name; a tale that stretches over a century and involves botanical legends from both America and Europe. It began with French botanist Andre Michaux’s 1788 expedition through the mid-Atlantic and an unidentified specimen he took back to his Paris herbarium. There it lay for half a century to be re-discovered by visiting botanist Asa Gray who took an interest in the unique plant and then spent another 25 years unsuccessfully seeking it in its natural habitat. But it wasn’t until Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum director Charles Sprague Sargent undertakes the search that it was found in its namesake Oconee County in 1888.
The saga continued with the creation of Lake Jocassee in 1973 which might well have spelled the end for this plant were it not for the determined efforts of people like Cyd Phillips and organizations like Naturaland Trust and others too many now to name. This inspirational story now is as unique as the plant; a tale of the great scientists working hand-in-glove with citizen scientists to change the course of fate.
Cyd Phillips speaks of latest chapter of this century’s old tale with the creation of the Boone’s Creek Preserve . For those of you that haven’t yet made the springtime pilgrimage to Lake Jocassee to witness this ephemeral in bloom, you’ll find the cinematography in this Naturaland Trust video compelling. And for those of you that have, it’ll take you back…
with Helen Mohr, M.S.
Helen Mohr, M.S., and she will present, . She is a Forester with the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station at Clemson, and the Director of the Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists. Helen and her student-led fire crew were recently featured in Clemson World in the article “Fire Tiger”. She has many years of experience working with fire as a firefighter, researcher, communicator and mentor.
She just returned from a 3-week stint fighting fires out in Colorado while spending nights in a tent! Here in South Carolina, she is an expert on using fire to benefit forests with controlled burns. During her talk, Helen will discuss fire ecology with an overview of prescribed fire in the SC mountains.
in the Footsteps of Our Ancestors’
with Dr. Richard Porcher
Celebrate Native Plant Week 2020 with a state-wide SCNPS virtual meeting! In place of an in-person meeting, we will be streaming live on Facebook and Zoom. SCNPS President Katie Ellis introduces Dr. Richard Porcher who will discuss Lowcountry’s natural landscape and interaction with man since the first European settlement in 1670. Swamps that were cleared to grow rice are now freshwater marshes (see the Cooper River); inland swamps that were dammed to create rice reservoirs harbor today some of the best habitat for wading birds; vast acreage of forests today are secondary forests that reclaimed fields that were abandoned; Native American shell rings, mounds and middens led to a unique plant community that developed on the shell deposits; and many Carolina bays harbor a totally different community than at settlement time. Throughout the natural Lowcountry are abandoned cultural sites that tell us where we came from as a society. Dr. Porcher’s will elucidate this anthropocentric landscape through photographs and commentary.
with Dr. Billy Campbell
Imagine a combination cemetery/nature preserve filled with wildflowers, threaded with streams, interjected with forest. Where no toxic embalming fluids or metal vaults are permitted, and coffins are made of biodegradable wood or reinforced cardboard. Bodies are not embalmed, so they decompose quickly, surrendering their nourishment to the earth. If this sounds like a time lost to the ages, you’ll want to hear this lecture by Dr. Billy Campbell aboput the the 78 acre preserve at Memorial Ecosystem at Ramsey Creek — the first green cemetery in the country — and the rich flora associated with it.
July 2020 Upstate General Meeting:
with Rosemary Knoll
At the July 21st meeting of the Upstate Chapter, Rosemarie Knoll shared some fun and interesting facts about our native ferns and fern allies and discussed the basics of fern identification. Rosemary is the author of 2 local wildflower books: the first about wildflowers in DuPont State Forest and the second on wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in Pisgah National Forest.
Her Zoom presentation was recorded and can be viewed below (the presentation started a couple minutes before the recording!).