Spring Upstate Plant Sale: Call for Volunteers!

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Photo Credit: DALL-E 3/Jesse Freeman

The Upstate Native Plant Sale will require numerous volunteers for smooth operation. Most team lead positions have been filled, with the exceptions of Hospitality, Welcome/Signage, Equipment Transport, and Safety (a newly introduced team). We are in search of talented individuals to staff our Check-out/Cashier area, assist with transportation (especially those with trucks and trailers), and facilitate the welcome and flow of customers. Bring your enthusiasm for plants and your eagerness to help educate the public about native species!

Click HERE to see all the ways you can help!

For questions about the plant sale please contact upstateplantsale@scnps.org.

For questions on volunteering or to sign up to volunteer please contact upstatevolunteers@scnps.org.

Grants Available — Apply Now!

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Photo Credit: Dream Studio/Cynthia Gibson

The SCNPS Upstate Chapter has its own Grants Program which funds special projects that align with our mission to protect and restore our heritage native plants while educating our Upstate communities.

Until further notice, we are waiving the application period. You may now submit grant applications for immediate consideration. We have created an online portal to make the grant application process easier and more streamlined.

Please visit our Upstate Community Grants page on the SCNPS website to learn more about this program — and please spread the word to the Upstate community!

Lowcountry Spring 2024 Newsletter

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Hello SCNPS Lowcountry Chapter members!

The Lowcountry Chapter has a great spring schedule to provide our members many fun and educational native plant learning opportunities. Our lecture location remains on the campus of The Citadel but has shifted next door to Byrd Hall auditorium. The chapter will provide light refreshments after each lecture, and attendees may bring their beverage of choice. See details about upcoming lectures and field trips in this newsletter.

At each chapter lecture, and at other events, we will be selling SCNPS shirts, seed packets, and stickers. These items are not yet available for online ordering, so be sure to join us at the lectures and other events to purchase SCNPS goodies. Both of the shirt designs were created by our talented Education & Outreach Chair, Lauren Boyd.

The seed packets are a blend of native species including splitbeard bluestem (Andropogon ternarius), blazing star (Liatris), blanket flower (Gaillardia), tickseed (Coreopsis), spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata), and rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium). These packets can be sown in a sunny, well drained area of your garden. They are easy-to-grow species and will support a plethora of wildlife. Proceeds from our merchandise sales go towards funding the SCNPS Lowcountry Chapter School and Community Grant Program. Spring grant applications are now open through February 10th. For more information on the grant program, visit this link or contact Matt Johnson at lowcountry.grants@scnps.org.

Samantha Porzelt

SCNPS Lowcountry Chapter President

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Midlands Annual Meeting & Social January 11

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The Midlands Chapter holds its annual meeting to report on the chapter’s growth and introduce new board members. The meeting begins at 6:30 with social time, with the business portion starting at 7. Following that, Clay Parker will present on milkweeds of South Carolina.

Thursday, January 11 from 6:30-8:30
The Commons at St. Martins-in-the-Fields, Columbia, SC

There is a virtual option as well. Find all the meeting details here.

Discover and Embrace South Carolina’s Natural Heritage: Certificate in Native Plant Studies

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This is a reminder to take advantage of a joint venture with the South Carolina Botanical Garden and the South Carolina Native Plant Society for an enlightening journey into our state’s rich botanical heritage by taking courses this spring that can be used to complete a Certificate in Native Plant Studies.  Our Certificate in Native Plant Studies curriculum offers hands-on classes exploring diverse native plants and ecosystems, from mountains to the sea. Embark on a journey of botanical discovery and deepen your understanding of South Carolina’s native plants through these comprehensive classes.

Click HERE to learn more.

Remember to plan accordingly as Basic Botany is a prerequisite for all other core classes.  The locations and times vary. Each class is completed in one day and costs $90.  However, SCNPS and SCBG members receive a 10% discount.

Core Classes:

  • Friday, February 16: Basic Botany (Clemson)
  • Thursday, February 29: Basic Botany (Charleston)
  • Saturday, March 16: Basic Horticulture*
  • Saturday, April 6: Natural Plant Communities*
  • Thursday, April 11: Spring Herbaceous Plant Identification*
  • Saturday, May 18: Sustainable Landscaping*
  • Saturday, May 25: Tree Identification*

*Note: Requires Basic Botany.


  • Saturday, March 9: Propagation
  • Thursday, March 14: Soils
  • Saturday, April 20: Native Plants for Pollinators
  • Friday, May 10: Ferns
  • Saturday, May 18: Piedmont Habitats
  • Dates TBA:
    • Jocasee Gorges: The Perfect Outdoor Classroom
    • Invasive Plant Control

Click HERE to sign up.


Save The Date: Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale at Conestee Park!

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Photo Credit: SCNPS

Date: May 11, 2024

Location: Conestee Park

The countdown begins for our much-anticipated annual plant sale! This is more than just a sale; it’s a celebration of nature and community. Held this year in the Stadium at Conestee Park, this event promises an array of native plants, gardening wisdom, and a chance to connect with fellow plant enthusiasts.

This is a community effort, and we need all hands on deck! Whether you’re a seasoned member or new to the world of native plants, your contribution is invaluable. From setup to sales, every helping hand counts in bringing our plant sale to life.

Click HERE to see all the ways you can help!

Circle the date on your calendar and prepare for a day of native plants, fun and community spirit. We’re looking forward to your support and enthusiasm as we showcase the best of South Carolina’s native plants!

Sign Up Now! Upstate February Field Trip to Brasstown Falls, Long Creek, SC

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Randle

On Saturday, February 24, 2024 Jennifer Randle will lead a hike at Brasstown Falls in Long Creek, SC. The hike will showcase scenic three waterfalls ranging from 20 to 40 feet in height.  The 1.5 mile trail was upgraded in 2021 and the difficulty is rated easy but be prepared for some stairs. Getting to the base of the lowest falls is completely manageable but requires navigating a log ladder. The total elevation gain/loss is 75 feet over the 1.5 miles.

Click HERE for more information on this beautiful area.

This event will be limited to the first 10 registrants, who will meet at 9:30 am at a location to be determined.  The hike starts at 10 am.  There will (as always!) be a waiver to sign. Bring water, lunch, camera, and weather-appropriate clothing.

Email upstatefieldtrips@scnps.org to sign up.  Please include your phone number in your email message.

These hikes are popular and fill up fast, so make sure to sign up quickly to secure your spot!

Welcome TWO New Upstate Chapter Board Members!

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Photo Credit: Dream Studio/Cynthia Gibson

The Upstate Chapter is excited to welcome two new Board-level members. Margaret Sirois will be our new Field Trip Coordinator and Jesse Freeman will be our new Publicity Committee Chair. We welcome them both to the team!

Margaret Sirois is stepping into the role of Field Trip Coordinator for the Upstate Chapter of the SCNPS. Originally from Maine, Margaret boasts an extensive career as an environmental scientist with the US Environmental Protection Agency, where she dedicated 35 years to environmental stewardship.

Retiring to Greenville, SC, Margaret was a member of the Upstate Master Naturalist Class of 2014. This pivotal experience connected her with the SCNPS and other volunteer opportunities.

Margaret is thrilled to be planning field trips that are not only educational but also enjoyable, aiming to share her passion and knowledge with others. “I continue to learn about and be amazed by the native plants, wildlife and geology of the Upstate,” she says.

Jesse Freeman has taken over the role of Publicity Chair. Jesse is a proud South Carolina native with roots in the Midlands. His journey with plants began at age 10, working at his grandparent’s nursery and garden center, Wingard’s Market. He studied Classics and Economics at the College of Charleston, later pursuing Computer Science at Clemson; for the past 18 years, he’s been immersed in a career writing software for electric meters.

Now residing in Chesnee on the quiet shores of Lake Blalock with his wife and two teenage daughters, Jesse finds solace in nurturing his yard, trail running, and travel. On Saturday mornings, you’ll find him volunteering at Hatcher Garden in Spartanburg.

Eager to give back to the plant community that enriched his life, he looks forward to volunteering with and learning from the South Carolina Native Plant Society. “Throughout my life, I’ve felt a profound pull towards plants and the natural world,” he says. “Now, I’m actively embracing that connection.”

January Plant of the Month

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Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)

Photo Credit: Matt Strieby/conifers.org

As many of our members know, the longleaf pine, Pinus palustris, is a majestic tree deeply rooted in the ecological and cultural history of South Carolina. It’s known for its impressively long needles, often reaching up to 18 inches in length, which give this species its name. Native to the Southeastern United States, this pine tree plays a crucial role in the region’s biodiversity.

The history of the longleaf pine is as rich as its habitat. Once covering vast stretches of the Southeast, these pines were extensively harvested for their valuable timber and resin. By the 20th century, their numbers had dwindled dramatically. Today, conservation efforts are helping to restore these iconic trees to their native landscape.

Distinguishing features of the longleaf pine include its unique growth stages. In its early “grass stage,” the tree focuses on root development while the stem remains short and stout, resembling a clump of grass. This adaptation helps it survive fires, which are common in its native habitat. As it matures, the longleaf pine enters the “bottlebrush stage,” marked by rapid vertical growth and the development of its characteristic long needles.

These needles, usually grouped in bundles of three, are among the longest of any pine species. The tree’s cones are also noteworthy, growing up to 10 inches long. The bark of the longleaf pine is thick and scaly, providing further protection against fire.

Ecologically, the longleaf pine is a keystone species in one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, the longleaf pine forest. These forests support a myriad of plant and animal species, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, which relies exclusively on mature longleaf pines for nesting.

The longleaf pine is also culturally significant. Native American tribes used its needles in traditional basket making, and its resin was a critical resource for early European settlers. Today, it remains an important symbol of the South’s natural heritage.

In South Carolina, particularly in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain regions, longleaf pines are a common sight. They prefer well-drained, sandy soils and are adapted to a fire-dependent ecosystem. Prescribed burns are often used in modern conservation to mimic natural fire cycles, promoting the health and regeneration of longleaf pine forests.

Flowering in spring, the longleaf pine’s subtle blooms are followed by the development of its large cones in the fall. These cones release seeds that are essential for the regeneration of the species and provide food for wildlife like the fox squirrel.

As a cornerstone of the South Carolina landscape, the longleaf pine is not just a tree but a symbol of resilience and beauty. Its restoration and preservation are vital for maintaining the ecological balance and cultural heritage of the region.

Victory for Waterways: Greenville County Adopts Crucial Riparian Buffer Ordinance

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Photo Credit: Jay King/greenvillejournal.com

We are excited to announce a significant victory: the Greenville County riparian buffer ordinance has been passed, marking a major milestone in our eight-year journey towards cleaner water and environmental preservation. This triumph, a collective effort of our dedicated conservation community, underscores the power of unified action for a greener future.

While we celebrate this achievement, it’s crucial to remember that our work isn’t over. The ordinance is set to expire in two years, signaling the need for ongoing vigilance and advocacy to ensure lasting protection for our natural waterways. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage on this topic and our continuing efforts in upcoming newsletters.

Thank you for your unwavering support and commitment to conservation!