Native Plants and Biodiversity

“The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible.”
― Edward O. Wilson

For most of us the debate about the reality of climate change and the threat to biodiversity seems to be largely behind us, and we can now focus our energies on what we can do about it.  May 22nd is the International Day for Global Diversity . We thought this would be a good time to reflect on our contribution—past, present and future.

Doug Lockard muses on the relationship between native plants and the role they play in addressing the larger challenges of biodiversity for this edition.  “My interest in conservation began with the sustainability movement during my later years in the construction industry.  Through my more recent engagement with the South Carolina Native Plant Society, that interest has morphed into a rewarding adventure of discovery into the world of ecosystems and the importance of biodiversity.”

In this essay, we’ll explore the foundational role of native plants in the balance of all life, some of the primary challenges to our native species, and how rewilding our individual properties right here in South Carolina will enable us contribute nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods.

Read the Essay

Upstate Monthly Meeting – Wild Herbs of South Carolina

Our May 17th presentation will be, “Wild Herbs of South Carolina”, by April Punsalan. April is the Yahola Herbal School Founder. She is also a Botanist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Charleston, S.C. More details will be coming soon.

Pickens Native Plant Garden Open House

Pickens County Native Plant Garden Hosts Scavenger Hunt

On Saturday, May 7, 2022, volunteers at the Joe and Maggie Rampey Interpretive Gardens, located at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History in Pickens, SC, will host an open house and children’s scavenger hunt from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.  The garden open house and scavenger hunt are part of the Pickens Azalea Festival.

Children will be challenged to complete a scavenger hunt to locate specific plants native to the Upstate. The selected plants are expected to be in bloom in early May. Garden volunteers will also be available to answer questions and lead tours. In addition to the scavenger hunt, the Pickens County 4-H and Clemson Cooperative Extension will sponsor a hands-on children’s activity.

Unique Garden Showcases Native Plants

Judy Seeley Pickens Museum Native Plant Garden volunteer. 10-2022 Swamp Sunflower in background.

Volunteers are ready to greet visitors on Saturday, May 7.

This unique garden, open since 2009, showcases a great variety of plants that are native to the Upstate. Volunteers from the Upstate Chapter of the SC Native Plant Society, the Master Gardeners of the Foothills, and the Upstate Master Naturalists Association maintain the garden.

According to Carol Asalon, volunteer coordinator, “The purpose of the event is to increase awareness of the garden and to educate visitors of all ages about not only the beauty of native plants but also the crucial role they play in maintaining a diverse and healthy ecosystem.”

Location and more information.

The Pickens County Museum of Art and History is located at 307 Johnson St., Pickens, SC, 29671. For more information contact Carol Asalon at [email protected]

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale April 2!

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale

April 2, 2022 @ 8:30 am1:00 pm   Conestee Park

840 Mauldin Road, Greenville

 

NATIVE PLANT SALE

The sale is a large, in-person style again this Spring at Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville. The date is Saturday, April 2nd, from 8:30am to 1pm. Early admission at 8:30am is for members only with the general public admitted at 9am. Knowledgeable advisors will be on the sale floor to assist customers with plant selection.

The sale includes a wide selection of native shrubs, trees, perennial wildflowers, ferns, vines, and grasses. Cash, credit, and checks accepted. Visit the website, www.scnps.org, in March for updated information and a list of plants available.

Guest plant vendors and educational exhibits will also be on site, including beekeepers, soil enhancements, books on Native plants and an exotic invasive species public service booth.

 

Volunteers Needed

Many volunteers are needed to run the sale.  We will train you on the various jobs from moving plants, assisting customers, writing up invoices, holding plants while customers continue to shop, and loading plants into vehicles.  Click on the volunteer form below to see all the ways and times you can help make the sale a success.

To sign up to volunteer, click here!

 

To download a flyer to share with friends and neighbors, click here!

 

To download a list of the plants that will be for sale in Excel, click here!

To download a PDF version of the list, click here!

 

To download a map of the plant sale site, click here!

Open House at Parks Mill Rocky Shoals Spiderlily Preserve May 14th and 21st

Rocky Shoals Spider Lily, photo by Mac Stone

We are planning to offer guided visits on Saturday, May 14, and May 21, through the Parks Mill Shoals Spiderlily Preserve during the peak bloom period.   This spectacular native lily thrives in fast running water in shoaly areas of lower piedmont streams.  The Preserve is near the town of Plum Branch, and consists of 15 acres of woodland, a large population of shoal’s spider lilies in Stevens Creek, and a reasonably intact turbine-powered grist mill.  This site was protected through the joint efforts of the SC Native Plant Society, Naturaland Trust in Greenville, and the Upper Savannah Land Trust in Greenwood.

About the site:

The creek-bed is home to a large and prosperous population of rocky shoals spiderlily (Hymenocallis coronaria), a 2.5-foot-tall lily with large (4-inch diameter) white flowers that appear in profusion in early May thru mid-June every year, with peak bloom during the middle 2 weeks of May.  The shoals spiderlily is the major reason for protecting the site. There is also an active aquatic animal community in the creek, including American gar and other fish species, with an accompanying predator community, including ospreys, herons, kingfishers, raccoons, and river otters.

The mill building and machinery are largely intact but non-functional.  In working to restore the mill building, we  have uncovered evidence that, in addition to a grain grinding facility, there was a sawmill and a cotton gin on the site.  There is a dam and millpond on the neighboring upstream property, with a millrace canal that conveyed water about 200 yards to a penstock and two turbines that generated the torque that operated the mill machinery.  We are actively working (and fund-raising) to restore the mill building to a sustainable condition.

This site is protected, and access is available only by appointment, and with a responsible member of the Preserve Protection team present. We ask that you register in advance to visit the site during a morning or afternoon period on May 14 or May 21.  We may have to assign you to a time slot to maintain safe social distancing, but we will try to accommodate your wishes.  So, save the dates in your calendar!

Questions or concerns, e-mail Bill Stringer at [email protected].

To register, complete and submit the online form below:

2022 Parks Mill Open House

Reservation form
  • Hold CTRL key to choose two
  • Please enter a number from 1 to 4.
  • Enter the names and email addresses of everyone in your party.
  • Please add the cell phone number of the person responsible for your party

 

Directions and Precautions:

Directions to the site:

  • Plum Branch, SC is at the intersection of SC Hwy 28 and SC Hwy 283.
    • On your cellphone Map app find Plum Branch, then follow SC 283 eastward to where William Self Rd (S-33-202) joins SC 283 (it is just before you reach Stevens Creek). This is the location of the entrance to the Parks Mill site. Then touch your screen for a couple of seconds at that intersection on the map. That will “drop a pin” on the map at that location, as denoted by the appearance of a key or arrow symbol. When you touch that pin and select Directions, your Map app will navigate you from your location to that pin, with video and audio instructions.  If you need them, the GPS coordinates for the entrance are:  33.8533 degrees by -82.2301 degrees
  • Do not park in the entrance road, as we need to maintain open access to the Mill and the lilies.  There is limited parking at the site in the small grassy area alongside William Self Road (S-33-202). If there is no parking left there, drive to downtown Plum Branch and park in the parking lot between the railroad and the Bracknell’s Store Building.  Do not park in front of the Post Office.
  • We will have a van shuttling between Plum Branch and the site entrance.  Call on the event days to request a shuttle ride to the Site (phone # available at the site entrance on event days).  The van will be shuttling as needed (every 30 minutes at peak times).

Precautions:  This is a rustic site with limited amenities beyond a bathroom with lavatory and toilet.  There will be litter barrels present and littering of the site may discourage future open house opportunities.

  1. Wear sturdy footwear and consider bringing a hiking stick or walker because the edge of the Creek is a bit rough.
  2. May is well into the tick (ugh!) season, so wear long pants, and be prepared to cuff your pants into sturdy socks. Wear a cap and treat it with insect repellent.  Likewise for your shirt collar and sleeves.  And avoid walking in areas of tall vegetation.
  3. Do not wade into the Creek for two reasons: 1. The rocks are very slick, and we are not responsible for “butt plants” and, 2. The lilies are protected, and we don’t want them to experience human foot traffic.  Please ensure any children in your group honor this precaution.
  4. The mill building is a construction site and will probably be off-limits to exploration.

By registering and attending, each person agrees to complete and sign a waiver of liability agreement upon arrival on the Parks Mill Rocky Shoals Spiderlily Preserve site.  (A copy of the form will be emailed to you upon receipt of your registration so you can complete it in advance to bring with you. This will save you time at the site entrance.

Thanks,

Parks Mill Rocky Shoals Spiderlily Preserve Team

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale

 

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale

April 2 @ 8:30 am1:00 pm   Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road, Greenville

NATIVE PLANT SALE

The sale is a large, in-person style again this Spring at Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville. The date is Saturday, April 2nd from 8:30am to 1pm. Early admission at 8:30am is for members only with the general public admitted at 9am. Knowledgeable advisors will be on the sale floor to assist customers with plant selection.

The sale includes a wide selection of native shrubs, trees, perennial wildflowers, ferns, vines, and grasses. Cash, credit, and checks accepted. Visit the website, www.scnps.org, in March for updated information and a list of plants available.

Guest Vendors and special exhibits

Guest plant vendors include Carolina Wild, Jeff Miller – Carnivorous plants, Earthen Organics, and Saturnia Farm. Educational exhibits will also be on site, including beekeepers, soil enhancements, books on Native plants and an exotic invasive species public service booth.

Volunteers Needed

Many volunteers are needed to run the sale.  We will train you on the various jobs from moving plants, assisting customers, writing up invoices, holding plants while customers continue to shop, and loading plants into vehicles.  Click on the volunteer form below to see all the ways and times you can help make the sale a success.

To sign up to volunteer, click here!

 

To download a flyer to share with friends and neighbors, click here!

 

 

 

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale

April 2 @ 8:30 am1:00 pm

NATIVE PLANT SALE

The sale is a large, in-person style again this Spring at Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville. The date is Saturday, April 2nd from 8:30am to 1pm. Early admission at 8:30am is for members only with the general public admitted at 9am. Knowledgeable advisors will be on the sale floor to assist customers with plant selection.

The sale includes a wide selection of native shrubs, trees, perennial wildflowers, ferns, vines, and grasses. Cash, credit, and checks accepted. Visit the website, www.scnps.org, in March for updated information and a list of plants available.

Guest plant vendors and educational exhibits will also be on site, including beekeepers, soil enhancements, books on Native plants and an exotic invasive species public service booth.

Volunteers are needed to work at the sale on both April 1 and April 2.  Contact Kathy Harrington: [email protected]

 

DHEC Board Rejects Permit for Spartanburg RV Park in Rare Plant Habitat

Article by Frank Holleman

Dwarf Flowered Heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora)

On December 20, the DHEC Board met in Columbia and by a vote of 4-2 rejected a septic permit for a proposed RV Park in the watershed of Goldmine Creek in Spartanburg County, which contains many populations of the rare Dwarf Flowered Heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora). Local residents objected to the proposal because the proposed park is located in a beautiful rural area that has been the focus of conservation initiatives, including several conservation easements. They objected particularly to the proposed septic system, on a hillside overlooking Goldmine Creek and discharging into groundwater on which the community’s wells depend.

The community conducted an ecological survey, which demonstrated that the Creek was a high quality Piedmont stream and that along its banks were many populations of Dwarf Flowered Heartleaf and at least one population of Ashy Hydrangea. The Heartleaf is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act; it exists only in parts of Greenville, Spartanburg, and Cherokee Counties and a few counties in the southern North Carolina Piedmont. The Ashy Hydrangea is identified as a species of concern in South Carolina by SC DNR. Both plants are dependent upon groundwater for their survival and some of the populations live right on the edge of the stream and are impacted by the stream’s water.

Plans for proposed RV park, from goupstate.com

Because of the threats to the plants and problems with the septic system permit, the S.C. Native Plant Society and Upstate Forever supported the community’s objections, in a filing with the DHEC Board submitted on our behalf by the Southern Environmental Law Center. The DHEC Board agreed that the septic permit was wrongly approved. The developer now must decide whether to appeal the decision, or to reapply for a permit for a redesigned system, or to rethink the project.

In the recent past, the Society has also spoken up for the rare Heartleaf in proceedings before the Greenville County Planning Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Peters Creek Heritage Preserve in Spartanburg was created to protect populations of the Heartleaf, at the urging of our member Dr. Gil Newberry.

Rocky Shoals Spider Lily Update (Nov 2021)

Rocky Shoals Spider Lily, photo by Mac Stone

The Parks Mill Rocky Shoals Spider Lily Preservation site on Stevens Creek near Plum Branch in McCormick has been a wonderful opportunity to observe and preserve a wonderful, rare plant. The lilies are prospering at our Parks Mill site, but kayaking surveys have indicated a serious decline in size and number of sites downstream from the Parks Mill site. Fortunately, a Clemson University professor, Dr. Althea Hagan, and her students have taken a keen interest in the problem. Grad student Andy Grunwald came to SCNPS with a grant request to research the problem, and SCNPS was glad to help fund his efforts. For the last two seasons, Andy and his undergrad helpers have been propagating lily plants and testing different approaches to getting plants established in the creek. It has been a challenge in a system that regularly has high-water events. In addition, Andy has reviewed a vast amount of research on rocky shoals spider lily and is very knowledgeable on the subject. At our November 2021 meeting, Andy gave us an update on the project’s activities and achievements.

Watch the Video

Genetic studies in Bunched Arrowhead and Oconee Bells

Many plants can reproduce sexually by seed or asexually by root sprouts or other means. Some plants can do both. Why does this matter? In Professor Ashley Morris’s lab at Furman University, they are investigating clonal structure in the federally endangered bunched arrowhead and the state-listed Oconee bells using genetic tools. During this program, she will provide some preliminary data from the work that students have been doing this summer, with thoughts about possible implications for these two rare species.  Read more about Oconee Bells here.

Watch the Video