Shortia Around the World

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Dr. L>L> “Chick” Gaddy highlights the May 21 Upstate NPS meeting with a talk on Shortia around the globe.  We know about our Upstate Oconee Bell, (Shortia galacifolia) but did you know it has east Asian cousins?  Botanists have long pondered the relationships of eastern North American plants to their east Asian cousins.  The discontinuous distribution of the same or closely related plant taxa is disconcerting, but the similarities of some Asian forests to those of the southern Appalachians are  so great that a sense of deja vu is often experienced by botanists of one region visiting the other.

Chick Gaddy will talk about the various Shortia, including a species (Shortia rotata) newly discovered by Gaddy and collaborator Maaxim S. Nuraliev.  All Shortia species are considered to be rare, so come out for this rare opportunity to hear about them.

The program will be held at a new location on the Tri County Technical College campus in Pendleton, SC.  We will meet in the Marshall Parker Auditorium of Oconee Hall.  As you enter the campus at the traffic light (the south entrance), the driveway you want is to the left.  HOWEVER, you cannot turn left as you enter.  Please drive ahead to the first place you can make a u-turn and head back toward the traffic light.  Just before the light, turn right onto the one-way access road in front of the buildings.  You will pass Miller Hall, Anderson Hall  and Pickens Hall before coming to Oconee Hall on the right.  You may park in any of the student/faculty spots along the one way drive.  There are also two  parking lots just past Oconee Hall.  Lot H-1 and Lot H-2 available for us in the evening.   Please go to  and print a map of the campus.  There will be signs out marking the building entrance.

The program starts at 7pm.  Arrive at 6:30 or refreshments and socializing.  For more information, go to

Oconee Bells: Lost and Found Treasure of the Upstate

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The Upstate Native Plant Society meeting on Tuesday, April 16 at 7pm, explores the story of the Oconee Bells, a rare and beautiful Spring blooming wildflower found in only a few places in the world.  One of those places is the Jocassee Gorges in Upstate South Carolina.  Naturalist Kay Wade will present the story of the discovery, “loss” and rediscovery of this tiny beauty which draws hundreds of people to the upstate every March when the Bells are in bloom.

Wade will focus on the human interest stories that are a fascinating part of the history of the Oconee Bells, (Shortia galacifolia).  In the 1700’s botanist Andrea Michaux discovered the plants in South Carolina and sent pressed botanical samples to Paris, France.  The samples lingered in obscurity in a museum collection until botanist Asa Gray saw them in 1839.  Gray searched in vain for the Bells until 1884.  Years later the plant was found, by accident, by teenager George Hyams who wondered what this unusual plant was and took some home.  Kay Wade will fill in the details of the search and the characters involved.

Kay Wade is a Master Naturalist and co-owner of Jocassee Lake Tours.  She writes columns for the Seneca Journal.

The program is on Tuesday, April 16 at 7pm at Landrum Depot, 211 North Trade Street, Landrum, SC, in Spartanburg County.  The program is free and open to the public.  Please arrive at 6:30 for socializing and refreshments.

Upstate Oconee Bell Boat trip, Lake Jocassee

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The Monday, March 20, Oconee Bell Boat Trip on Lake Jocassee will meet at Devils Fork State Park Visitors Center breezeway, near the boat ramp parking, at 10:50 am •Thecost is $35 per person.
Leader: Kay Wade
This is approximately a 3 hour pontoon boat tour from 11am to 2pm to see a special community of Oconee Bells. They should be in bloom! Some walking is involved, but nothingOCONEEbells_CAL_079 strenuous. Bring lunch, water, and a walking stick. Boots with ankle protection are also a good idea. Boat rides feel cooler than the ambient temperature, so consider that when getting ready for the day.
To reserve a spot, email Virginia Meador by March 16th at: [email protected]
The rain date is Monday, March 27th.

Upstate field trip: Station Cove Falls and Oconee bells

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Join trip leader Dan Whitten on Saturday, March 26, for a trip to Devils Fork State Park to view  oconee bells in bloom and then to Station Creek Cove Falls for other early wildflowers.  We will meet at Devils Fork, 161 Holcombe Cr | Salem, SC 29676 at the Oconee Bell Loop Trailhead on the south side of the park.  We meet at 9:30 am.  There is a state park fee of $2.00 adults, $1.25 South Carolina seniors.   The loop trail is 1 miles long.  Next we car pool to Station Cove and Creek botanical area.  The falls areDanWhitten_895 a spectacular 60 feet high. This hike through a beautiful cove forest is .75miles to the falls, making it 1.75miles total distance.  Difficulty rating for both hikes is easy. Plan to bring a lunch water/drink, and a camera.  Estimated time duration for the hike is 9:30-2:30.  This is a pair of hikes you do not want to miss!

Upstate: Presenting Oconee Bells

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Most friends of the SCNPS are familiar with the story of our rare and elusive native wildflower known as Oconee bells (Shortia galacifolia). On Tuesday, February 16th, Kay Wade will share with us an in-depth look at the history of the discovery, and rediscovery, of Shortia. Joe Townsend will also make a short appearance to speak about the propagation of Shortia.

Those who know the story of the Oconee bells are already acquainted with Asa Gray, the famous American botanist who became nearly obsessed with finding this plant from the Southern Appalachians after seeing a specimen in Paris collected by Andre Michaux in the late 1700s. And you might also know the role of  seventeen-year-old George McQueen Hyams in finally locating Shortia  in the wild. But who were these people behind the story? And what exactly happened in those 40 years that transpired while botanists searched in vain for Shortia? Kay will focus on the human interest stories that are an integral part of the history of Shortia.

Joe Townsend will also share the challenges he has faced in his work to propagate Shortia.  Very little is known about the reproduction of Shortia  from  seed, and only a few people in the world have successfully propagated Oconee bells. Joe will share his own observations about the reproduction of Shortia.

Kay Wade is a Master Naturalist and co-owner of Jocassee Lake Tours. She writes columns in The Seneca Journal and the Friends of Lake Keowee Society’s The Sentinel. Joe Townsend, owner of Wildside Garden, has had the very rare opportunity to study Shortia seedlings as they mature to produce a flower.

Kay Wade

February 16, 2016