Discover Nature’s Symphony…

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Photo Credit: tree.fm

A Unique Opportunity to Share South Carolina’s Forest Sounds

One of the overlooked benefits of protecting and preserving our state’s native plants is simply the sounds that emanate from these natural plant communities.  What if you could listen to these forest sounds any time from the comfort of your very own home? Well a novel website called Tree.fm offers you the opportunity to do just that.

Tree.fm offers a peaceful retreat by playing sounds from forests around the world.  But taking a look at the library of audio files used by the website, South Carolina’s unique soundscape is missing. Here’s where friends and members of the South Carolina Native Plant Society can help. The next time you are out enjoying the natural wonders of our state take a moment to record and share our local forest sounds. You can find instructions to upload your recordings to the Sounds of the Forest sound map HERE. Let’s put South Carolina on the auditory map and share our state’s natural acoustic beauty with the world. Join the effort and let’s make South Carolina’s forests heard!

 

Environmental Leaders Celebrate Ordinance Success in Greenville

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Photo Credit: Rick Huffman

A Nearly Decade-Long Effort Culminates in Key Conservation Win

In January, leaders from a coalition of pivotal environmental organizations gathered for a celebratory lunch to mark the passage of the Land Development Buffer Ordinance in Greenville County, a testament to their persistent efforts over the last eight years. The pictured leaders from this victorious campaign are Lisa Hallo, Sherry Barrett, Rebecca Wade, and Erika Hollis of Upstate Forever; Melanie Ruhleman from Save Our Saluda; Emily Poole of the Southern Environmental Law Center; Josie Newton from Friends of the Reedy; and our own Rick Huffman representing the South Carolina Native Plant Society.

This collaborative victory signifies a major leap forward for water quality and natural habitat preservation in the area. By establishing protective buffers around land developments, the ordinance aims to significantly reduce pollution runoff, safeguarding the county’s waterways for future generations.

The celebratory gathering not only honored the hard work and dedication of these environmental advocates but also symbolized a united front for the continued protection of natural resources in Greenville County. As these leaders reflect on their accomplishment, they are also setting their sights on future challenges, ready to continue their vital work in conservation.

If you happen to see any of these Buffer Warriors out and about, be sure to thank them for their tireless efforts and congratulate them on this tremendous achievement. Their dedication and collaboration have made a lasting impact on the conservation landscape of Greenville County.

 

Sharing Native Plants With Children

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Photo Credit: blog.library.in.gov

By educating children to the importance of native plants in fostering a robust and diverse environment we can create stewards for the natural world.

In this new series of articles, we will offer simple steps and information to expose children to native plants, natural plant communities and their ecology.

Spring in the Mountains and Piedmont!
by Sue Watts

In early February, the forest floor begins to stir as small green shoots push through the leaf litter. Spring begins! The spring herbaceous layer is exceptionally diverse in environments with rich soils containing lots of organic material. From February to May, every day something new appears in the landscape! Walking in the woods with your children is a simple way to experience the delight of native plants. Use this information sheet from the South Carolina Botanical Garden to explore your local woods. For a delightful book to share with children about spring wildflowers consider this picture book by the Indiana Native Plant Society: Wake Up, Woods!

When Does a Hedgerow Become a Hedge Hog?

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Photo Credit: The Spruce/Evgeniya Vlasova

When non-native plants invade and hog the hedge, disrupt the food web, and contribute to bird extinction!

by Jo Ann McCracken-Redding

 

See for yourself where “hedgehogging” is disrupting the ecosystem. It’s wherever hedges are invaded by or planted with non-natives such as the widespread Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) or Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense Lour.).

Count the Caterpillars to Measure the Disruption by Non-Native Plants

University of Delaware professor and entomologist Dr. Doug Tallamy and his student wanted to quantify the disruption of ecosystems in hedgerows where they believed the proliferation of non-native plants was –

  • reducing the caterpillar population, 
  • which in turn was leading to fewer butterflies and moths, and
  • threatening bird populations (especially songbirds) that depend on a soft, high-protein diet of caterpillars to raise their young.

 


How “Hedgehogging” Impacts Bird Survival 

Dr. Doug Tallamy’s research measured how much caterpillar food was available to birds in a hedgerow invaded by non-native plants versus a hedgerow of multi-species native plants. Caterpillars provide a soft, protein-rich meal that birds depend on to feed their young.

TAKE THE QUIZ: Guess What They Found?

The caterpillar food supply in non-native hedgerows was what percent LESS than the supply in the native hedgerows?

     A. 56%

     B. 76%

     C. 96%

Read on to find the answer.


 

 

Photo Credit: Jo Ann McCracken-Redding

What the Research Revealed

Tallamy and his student analyzed caterpillar populations in sample hedgerows across several states. They counted the abundance of caterpillars, number of caterpillar species, and amount of caterpillar biomass energy, which is consumed as bird food. 

Compared to caterpillar counts in the native hedgerows, the counts in hedgerows invaded by non-native plants were greatly reduced: 

 

  • Caterpillar abundance was reduced by 68%, 
  • the number of caterpillar species was reduced by 91%, and 
  • the caterpillar biomass was reduced by 96%! (Quiz answer: did you get it right?)

A 96% reduction indicates that birds could find only 4% of the caterpillar food in the invaded hedgerow than they could find in the hedgerows of multi-species native plants!

How Statistics Reveal Catastrophe in the Making

In his book, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard, Tallamy gives many examples of why food web disruption by non-native invaders can be catastrophic, including the following facts about how birds depend on caterpillars for the survival of their species:

  • “Caterpillars are the mainstay of most bird diets in North America, particularly when birds are rearing their young.”
  • Records from a Carolina Chickadee count conducted by Richard Brewer (cited by Tallamy in Nature’s Best Hope) showed that chickadee parents were delivering 6000 to 9000 caterpillars to their nest of chicks during the average 16-day fledgling period! Imagine these tiny avian parents feeding approximately 500 caterpillars to their chicks each day! This includes foraging for caterpillars, transporting them to the nest, and feeding them to the babies.

What if their caterpillar supply (as shown in Tallamy’s caterpillar count) dwindled to as much as 4% of what might have been available to them before non-native plants were introduced to their neighborhood? 

Where will the chickadees find the concentrated nutrients they need? How much farther can they search once they encounter a caterpillar scarcity? Will their new chicks starve or grow too unhealthy to survive? 

This scenario may be happening in remote fields, or it may be in your yard or neighborhood!

Now you know the truth about caterpillars and birds in the food web. What can you do?

Make sure your hedgerows or green fences are planted with a variety of native species in them. You also need to choose natives that are good caterpillar hosts in your region.

Be aware that according to Tallamy, “14% of native plant species are larval hosts for 90% of caterpillar species.” That means that caterpillars are picky eaters and prefer only certain native plants. 

Resources for finding out which native plants are on the caterpillar menu in your neighborhood:

  • National Wildlife Federation – This U.S. Forest Service search tool ranks native plants by ecoregion and by which ones are best for hosting caterpillars.  
  • Audubon has a similar database that allows you to enter your zip code to customize your search by locale. 
  • For hedge planting ideas, browse books and articles such as “Native Hedges and Hedgerows: Beauty and Biodiversity”, posted on the Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA). Remember to check which of the recommended native plants are caterpillar hosts where you live. 
  • Hear Doug Tallamy’s presentation of the hedgerow caterpillar research, one of the compelling biodiversity stories included in “What’s the Rush: The Solution To the Biodiversity Crisis” , posted on the website of Home Grown National Park, an organization Dr. Doug Tallamy co-founded.

Become an Investigator

Of course, this interdependency between native plants, caterpillars and birds is just one of countless critical relationships among plants and animals, including us. However, recognizing non-native hedges is a visible reminder to help preserve our precious ecosystems. You’ll probably start walking, cycling, or driving  around inspecting: Is that a friendly hedgerow or an ecosystem-disrupting hedge hog?*

 

*References to hedge hogs mean no offense to unrelated peaceful hedgehogs. These animals are not native to North America, are named for burrowing in hedgerows, do not host caterpillars but sometimes eat them.

Grow Community and Conservation: Volunteer with SCNPS at the Paw Paw Festival 2024!

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Photo Credit: southernliving.com

Sow Seeds of Support for SCNPS at the Paw Paw Festival!

The South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS) is thrilled to be part of the Paw Paw Festival on August 31st, 2024, from 3 PM to 8 PM at Blue Oak Horticulture in Taylors, SC. We invite our members and the broader community to volunteer with us at this unique event, dedicated to celebrating the Paw Paw and the broader mission of native plant conservation. This is your chance to make a real difference in the conservation community while enjoying the festive atmosphere of the Paw Paw Festival.

What We Need:

  • Volunteers to operate our information booth, hand out educational materials, field questions, and engage with festival-goers.
  • Assistance with logistics, specifically someone to transport a table and tent from our warehouse to the event site and back.

Event Details:

  • Date: August 31st, 2024
  • Time: 3 PM – 8 PM
  • Location: Blue Oak Horticulture, 198 Fews Bridge Rd, Taylors, SC 29687
  • Weather Preparedness: The event will proceed rain or shine, so please dress appropriately for outdoor conditions.

Join Us:

To sign up or if you have questions, please contact Jack Hagopian at jackchagopian@gmail.com or 704-907-1411. We look forward to your participation and support!

Click HERE for general information on the Paw Paw Festival.

Make an Impact: Volunteer with SCNPS at Barrels and Beer 2024!

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Photo Credit: andersonswcd.org

Plant Your Presence and Brew Up Support for SCNPS at Barrels and Beer!

The South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS) is excited to participate in the 6th Annual Barrels and Beer, hosted by the Anderson Soil and Water Conservation District. We’re calling on our members and supporters to volunteer on May 4th, 2024, from 11 AM to 2 PM at Golden Grove Farm and Brew in Piedmont, SC. This event is a fantastic opportunity to promote native plant conservation and engage with the community over shared interests in sustainability and craft beer.

What We Need:

  • Volunteers to staff our information booth, providing literature, answering questions, and engaging with the public.
  • An individual to speak briefly about SCNPS’s mission and impact, showcasing our dedication to native plant conservation.

Event Details:

  • Date: May 4th, 2024
  • Time: 11 AM – 2 PM
  • Location: Golden Grove Farm and Brew, 115 Krim Rd, Piedmont, SC 29673
  • Weather Preparedness: The event will proceed rain or shine, so please dress appropriately for outdoor conditions.

Join Us:

To sign up or if you have questions, please contact Jack Hagopian at jackchagopian@gmail.com or 704-907-1411. Your participation will significantly aid in promoting the values and goals of the SCNPS.

Click HERE for general information on the 6th Annual Barrels and Beer.

Volunteers Wanted: Join Us at Bell Fest 2024 to Support SCNPS at Devils Fork State Park!

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Photo Credit: visitoconeesc.com

Make a Difference and Support SCNPS at Bell Fest with Your Time and Talents!

The South Carolina Native Plant Society invites you to volunteer at Bell Fest, happening on March 16, 2024, from 10 AM to 3 PM at Devils Fork State Park. Our own Rick Huffman will be speaking. We’re seeking enthusiastic volunteers to join him there to share information about SCNPS and engage with the community at our booth.

What We Need:

  • Volunteers to distribute information, answer questions, and ensure smooth operation during busy periods or breaks.
  • A volunteer to transport a table from our warehouse to Devils Fork State Park and back.

Event Details:

  • Date: March 16, 2024
  • Time: 10 AM to 3 PM
  • Location: Devils Fork State Park, 161 Holcombe Cir, Salem, SC 29676
  • Weather Preparedness: The event will proceed rain or shine, so please dress appropriately for outdoor conditions.

Join Us:

To sign up or if you have questions, please contact Jack Hagopian at jackchagopian@gmail.com or 704-907-1411. Your support is crucial in helping us promote native plant conservation at Bell Fest and beyond.

Click HERE for general information on Bell Fest.

March Upstate General Chapter Meeting: Josie Newton: “Restoring the Reedy Corridor: Using Native Plants to Improve Water Quality”

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As the watershed scientist for Friends of the Reedy River, Josie spends her days working to protect one of our most important waterways in the Upstate. Native plants play a critical role in the preservation and restoration of streams and wetlands in the Reedy River watershed. Josie will share more on the importance of riparian buffers and native plants, and how FoRR uses them to improve the Reedy River’s water quality.

BIO:

A South Carolina native, Josie was raised on Lake Murray and enjoyed frequent visits to the waterfalls of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family, developing a love and deep connection to water systems at a young age. She furthered her passions for environmental conservation and stewardship while attending Furman University in Greenville, SC, where she earned a B.S. in Sustainability Science.

Josie’s professional background includes stream and wetland delineation and permitting, as well as sustainable agriculture initiatives and riparian buffer management. Her passions lie in biodiversity protection, stream, wetland, and riparian zone conservation; promoting equitable access to outdoor spaces; native plant conservation; and public education and outreach within these areas to promote community engagement in protecting the invaluable resources of the Reedy River watershed.

Since August 2021, Josie has served as FoRR’s Watershed Scientist. She also sits on the Saluda River Basin Planning Council; the Reedy River Water Quality Group Best Management Practice Committee; the Reedy River Water Quality Group Public Outreach Group; and is a South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream Freshwater and Macroinvertebrate Trainer. She looks forward to connecting with you regarding ways to protect and preserve the Reedy watershed, improve and monitor the water quality of the Reedy and its tributaries, and help others learn about the intricacies of Greenville’s hometown river.

Outside of her professional commitments, Josie enjoys spending time outdoors, seeing live music, gardening, and crafting stoneware on the potter’s wheel.

 

 

Meeting Information

March 19, 2024
In person social time starts at 6:30PM
ZOOM opens at 6:50 for announcements
Presentation at 7PM
Kroc Center Greenville
424 Westfield St, Greenville, SC 29601

Pickens Native Plant Garden Volunteers Ready to Restart

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Photo Credit: Judy Seeley

Help wake the Pickens County Museum Native Plant Garden up for Spring

DATE: Tuesday, February 20 at 9am.

LOCATION: The Pickens County Museum at 307 Johnson St, Pickens, SC 29671.

SIGN UP AND JOIN NOTIFICATION LIST: Please email judy_seeley@hotmail.com.

 

Come out to help us out as the volunteering fun resumes at the Pickens County Native Plant Garden. Join other native plant aficionados as we discover what is waking up in the garden and begin to get it all back into good shape for the 2024 season.

This native plant demonstration garden is on the Pickens County History Museum grounds at 307 Johnson St, Pickens, SC 29671. Garden volunteers from the SC Native Plant Society, Master Gardeners of the Foothills, and the Upstate Master Naturalist Association work together to maintain and improve this beautiful place for the community to enjoy.

The regular workdays are the 1st and 3rd Tuesday, with occasional Saturday mornings. The usual timeframe is two hours but you are welcome to stay longer. It is a great way to meet new gardening friends, enjoy “digging in the dirt,” and learn about native plants in all growth stages. March dates are Tuesday, March 5, and Tuesday, the 19th. To join the email notification list, contact judy_seeley@hotmail.com.

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.