On Our Radar: Tiny Libraries, Tiny Houses, and… Tiny Forests?

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First, there were tiny libraries cropping up all over. Then, tiny houses became all the craze. (Don’t get us wrong. We definitely approve of both.)

But, oh, man. This next one really gets our juices flowing!

From the New York Times (yes, sorry, behind the paywall), an amazing article about the growing trend toward the planting and tending of “Tiny Native Forests.” Wow!

To quote the article, this is “a sweeping movement that is transforming dusty highway shoulders, parking lots, schoolyards and junkyards worldwide. Tiny forests have been planted across Europe, in Africa, throughout Asia and in South America, Russia and the Middle East. India has hundreds, and Japan, where it all began, has thousands. Now tiny forests are slowly but steadily appearing in the United States.”

If you’ve got access, go read the article. Whether you do or don’t, get inspired! We’ve all got a postage-stamp-sized something. Let’s jump on the Tiny Tree Train!

Alien Invaders: See Something, Say Something!

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On a recent ramble through Falls Park in downtown Greenville, one of our intrepid roving reporters stumbled upon a creek feeding into the Reedy River that was choked with floating primrose. Her first thought was, “YIKES! Someone should be told about this! Someone whose number one concern is native plants and invasive species! Someone like, oh, I dunno… the SCNPS!”

Now, as we all know, brilliant strokes of inspiration do not always result in, whatchamacallit, oh yeah: follow-through. But in this case, the germ of an idea is there.

Possibly a bulletin-board on the website? Or a hotline email address? Maybe a regular newsletter feature? We’re spitballing here in the office, and we invite you to brainstorm with us!

Send us your thoughts, and, meanwhile, if you see something, say something! Send your ideas and sightings to us here at the newsletter ([email protected]) – and keep your eye on this space going forward!

Plant of the Month: Green and Gold

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Green and Gold (Chrysogonum spp.)

Chrysogonum is the genus name of green-and-gold, a low-growing wildflower of the eastern United States. In the past, only one species was recognized in this genus – Chrysogonum virginianum. It ranged naturally from New York south to Louisiana and Florida. With its low rosettes of leaves and bright yellow daisy-like flowers, it was easy to identify and easy to find in native plant nurseries.

Looking closer, however, botanists and horticulturists noted differences between plants through that large range. Most obviously, some of these plants develop into tight clumps while others form mats by short or long stolons. The clumping types are tidy little plants that are suitable for use in small and formal gardens. The stoloniferous, mat-forming plants spread faster and are great for use as a groundcover especially in a naturalistic setting or in a larger garden. They grow well in part shade to shade and are adaptable to clay, loam and sand. Literature says that they may tolerate full sun if the soil is consistently moist. In upstate South Carolina gardens, plants are evergreen and are ignored by rabbits and deer. Young plants flower well in spring and early summer with scattered flowers through the growing season.

The tricky part is the scientific naming of the plant – or plants. Various references identify green and gold as one species with two or three varieties or three separate species. Many horticultural references use the single name, Chrysogonum virginianum, for all types. Newer botanical references and a few nurseries divide green and gold into two or three varieties or species. Three valuable references for plant names in South Carolina are the Flora of North America, the South Carolina Plant Atlas and Weakley’s Flora of the Southeastern United States. Unfortunately, these three references do not use the same three names for the Chrysogonum types and their range maps do not agree. This is confusing to non-botanists but it is not unusual for different botanists to hold different opinions on scientific matters such as plant identities. It just means that this is a complicated matter and more study is needed to uncover evidence that will bring the majority to agreement.

So, what do we do about names in the meantime? It’s not a matter of scientific validity. Any scientific name that is published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal is a valid scientific name. Where disagreements exist, a botanist will use the name from the publication and/or expert that they trust and include the name of the author with the scientific name that they choose to use. For example, Weakley publishes the scientific name of one species as Chrysogonum repens (Cassini) Nesom. Cassini and Nesom are the authors of scientific articles that convinced Weakley use this name.

The SCNPS Upstate Native Nursery has decided to follow the nomenclatural treatment of the genus Chrysogonum in Weakley’s Flora of the Southeastern United States. This means that we will label sale plants (to the best of our abilities) using Weakley’s names and following his descriptions.

  • Chrysogonum virginianum is the northern green and gold. This species is described as having no stolons. Close inspection does show short stems with very short internodes that allow the plant to develop into a tight clump. (An internode is the section of a stem between leaves.) Its flower stalks are one to five inches tall. This species is found naturally in the South Carolina Coastal Plain and further north.
  • Chrysogonum repens is the Carolina green and gold. This species has stolons of intermediate length with internodes that are approximately one to two inches long. Its flower stalks are one to ten inches tall. This is the species found naturally in the South Carolina Piedmont – and the rest of the state.
  • Chrysogonum australe is the Gulf Coast green and gold. This species has long stolons with internodes that are approximately five to twenty-four inches long. Its flower stalks are one to four inches tall. This species is a comparatively fast grower and an excellent groundcover. This species is found south and west of South Carolina in the Gulf Coast states.

Scientific research will continue. These names and even their descriptions may change in the future. These changes are just a small part of a scientific process to help us better understand the world around us.

December Upstate Meeting: Holiday Social (WOOT!)

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Join us for our annual Holiday Social on December 12th from 6:30PM – 8PM, in-person only at the Kroc Center, 424 Westfield St, Greenville, SC 29601.

In addition to complimentary snacks and drinks, there will be a rousing “Year in Review” presentation, a “Bring a Book, Take a Book” exchange, and a Stingy Santa round-robin!

Year in Review

Oof! And what a year it’s been! Chapter president Pam Barbour will host a whirlwind presentation touting our many accomplishments in 2023, with time for a Q&A.

Bring a Book, Take a Book

Bring a plant- or nature-related book you’re willing to give away for a book exchange that will be happening throughout the evening.

Stingy Santa

Bring a wrapped gift valued at or under $20 for our Stingy Santa. Plant-themed gifts are encouraged. Get your inner Grinch on and be ready to “steal” the best gift!

We need your RSVP…

…no later than December 9th to ensure that we have enough food for everyone. And, since this is a party, we will not have a Zoom meeting this month. So change out of your PJs, rally your reindeer, and come join us in person!


November Upstate Monthly Meeting: Frank Holleman, “Power to the Plants: 50 Years of the Naturaland Trust”

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Frank Holleman

Sometimes in order to preserve, protect, or restore South Carolina’s native plant heritage, we have to go to the mattresses. For Frank Holleman, an expert in the regulatory and legal processes that protect our native plants and their habitats, that means standing up in administrative proceedings and even occasionally taking malefactors to court.

Frank is a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and also President of Naturaland Trust, a Greenville-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting SC’s Blue Ridge Mountains and special places in the Piedmont, and he is well-versed in the myriad strategies that go into protecting native plants. On this, Naturaland Trust’s 50th anniversary, he will give us an overview of how Naturaland Trust’s work has protected native plants and their habitat, and discuss the Trust’s many partnerships with SELC and the SCNPS.

Join us in person at Anderson Hall at Tri-County Technical College or VIA ZOOM for Frank’s presentation. Click this link for location information and to add the event to your calendar.

PLEASE NOTE: Once you turn at the light to get onto campus, you will need to do a U-turn and then take a right turn to get to the road right in front of Oconee Hall. The U-turn is because there is a median blocking you from making a left immediately upon arriving on campus.


Frank Holleman is a board member of the Upstate Chapter of the SCNPS, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, and President of Naturaland Trust. He and his family live in Greenville. He has represented the SCNPS in a number of legal proceedings to protect native plants and their habitats.

Upstate November Field Trip: Big Rocks in the Naturaland Trust Preserve

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On November 15 Dan Whitten will lead a field trip to Big Rocks in the Naturaland Trust Preserve at Nine Times. This event will be limited to the first 15 registrants, so make sure to sign up quick!

The hike will be mostly a loop of about 3 miles with a relatively short but steep ascent near the beginning, with some wonderful double-track forest roads to walk along as well. As we scramble around the big rocks near the top there will be great overlooks and views, and the summit has a large level area perfect for having lunch while enjoying the scenery.

Please note: Because of the steep ascent at the start, we’re rating this hike as “difficult.”

The lucky first 15 registrants will meet at 9:30am and carpool to the trailhead. There will (as always!) be a waiver to sign. Bring water, lunch, camera and weather-appropriate clothing.

To register, shoot an email to Margaret Sirois at [email protected]. (Lickety-split, before the trip fills up!)

Our Waterways Need Your Help. NOW!

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This is the last mile effort for one of the most important issues facing Greenville County and the Upstate, and we need your voice to protect what might well be our most valuable resource: Our waterways.

The Greenville County Council is poised for a critical vote. On Tuesday, November 7 (eek, that’s this coming Tuesday!), they will decide whether to require a minimum of 50′ riparian buffers for all new development adjacent to any “Waters of the State,” county-wide.

Refresher Course: A riparian buffer is an area of trees and other vegetation adjacent to a watercourse designed to…

  • decrease the intensity and frequency of flooding
  • intercept runoff from upland areas
  • mitigate the effects of nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and other pollutants
  • address water quality issues generally
  • be the most cost-effective and fiscally responsible way to protect our rivers and streams

The current regulations require a 35-ft undisturbed riparian buffer, but ONLY during construction.


Wait. What??????

Yup. That’s why we so desperately need the proposed 50′ riparian buffer, which would result in an undisturbed, vegetated area on both sides of each and every waterway.

And this ain’t just touchy-feely, tree-hugging, granola-crunching hippie talk. We’ve got data on our side!

  • First off, strengthening riparian buffers in Greenville County was a primary recommendations that emerged from the Reedy River Water Quality Group (RRWQG), a nearly ten-year effort by the County and many other partners (including Upstate Forever, HBA, and ReWa) which relied on extensive research on the efficacy of riparian buffers of varying widths.
  • Not only that, but they’ve got an economic impact study to back them up.
  • In the end, RRWGQ’s recommendation was to require 100′ riparian buffers on streams draining 50 acres or more and 50′ buffers on streams draining areas smaller than 50 acres.
  • To put the cherry on the sundae, an extensive study published by the University of Georgia determined that the most effective riparian buffers are at least 100 feet wide and that no buffer under 50 feet can be considered very effective.


And, with your help, we can ensure that County Council votes YES on Tuesday, November 7!!!


  • Call (preferred—they really do listen to their constituents!)and/or email your representative on Greenville County Council. Urge their YES vote on the proposed amendment to require 50′ riparian buffers county-wide on all “Waters of the State”
  • Show up for the County Council meeting on Tuesday, November 7, by 6:00 pm. The County Council Chambers are located in the County Administration building closest to the parking garage at County Square, 301 University Ridge, Greenville, 29601.
  • Wear BLUE at the November 7 County Council meeting.Join the SCNPS, Upstate Forever, and our partners to create a visual show of support for riparian buffers! It’ll be a party — we hope to see you there!

If you can’t make it in person (or, heck: Do both!), here’s the contact info for the County Council. (If you’re not sure which one is yours, click HERE and enter your address to find out.)

Dan Tripp (County Council Chairman): 864.915.9212, [email protected]

Liz Seman (County Council Vice-Chair): 864.501.4126, [email protected]

Michael Barnes: 864.877.9457, [email protected]

Benton Blount: 864.483.2474, [email protected]

Rick Bradley: 864.483.3090, [email protected]

Ennis Fant: 864.467.2787, [email protected]

Chris Harrison: 864.467.4917, [email protected]

Butch Kirven: 864.228.9300, [email protected]

Alan Mitchell: 864.483.6952, [email protected]

Joey Russo: 864.483.0689, [email protected]

Steve Shaw: 864.553.9713, [email protected]

Stan Tzouvelekas: 864.467.4958, [email protected]


Lifetime Achievement: Green Tie Goes to Chief Parr

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September 20 was an emotional day for our own Rick Huffman, as he attended a ceremony honoring the Pee Dee Tribe’s Chief Pete Parr’s decades of conservation advocacy and education.

“The Green Tie Award for Lifetime Conservation Achievement,” given annually by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, only scratches the surface about what a brilliant, transformative figure the Chief has been. So, below are just a few links which we encourage you to follow, if you’d like to feel a jolt of optimism for our collective future! (As Rick summed it up: “It was a sweet day. It gives me hope. Conservation is about people and culture as well as the land. The Chief is all that.”)


Next Up: Your Plants, Our Sales!

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With the fall plant sale barely passed, the folks at the Upstate Native Nursery are already thinking about the next one. And they’re betting that SCNPS members may have something more to offer. Would YOU like to help improve future sales?

First up, the Nursery is hoping to increase their diversity of native plants. In particular, they’re looking for plants that are not commonly available in commercial nurseries. If you have any of the following – especially if from native upstate South Carolina sources — they want to hear from you!

  • wild-type Benthamidia florida or flowering dogwood seeds or seedlings
  • Aesculus parviflora or the bottlebrush buckeye seeds or seedlings
  • Aralia spinosa or Hercules club suckers, seeds or seedlings
  • Camassia scilloides or wild hyacinth bulbs, seeds or seedlings
  • Gaylussacia baccata or G. dumosa, huckleberries seeds or seedlings
  • Halesia caroliniana and other species or silverbell seeds or seedlings
  • Impatiens capensis and I. pallida or jewelweed seeds or seedlings
  • Leucothoe fontanesiana or mountain doghobble seedlings or cuttings
  • Nyssa sylvatica or black gum seeds or seedlings
  • Oxydendron arboreum or sourwood seedlings
  • Symplocos tinctoria or horse sugar seeds

To be honest, this is just a sampling from the Nursery’s full wish list. You may have ideas of your own! What would you like to see at upcoming plant sales? Have you admired a native plant that you’ve never found available for sale? Do you have an interesting plant species you’d like to share?

Of course, the Nursery depends on volunteers to help prepare thousands of plants for each sale (some folks propagate and grow plants at home, contributing them at sale time, while others work at the nursery, sowing seeds, potting and fertilizing and labeling plants, pulling weeds, and generally providing the energy that makes the UNN run).

If you can help in any of these ways — or if you’ve got ideas on how to contribute — please reach out to UNN chief Cathy McCurdy. She looks forward to hearing from you!


South Carolina Native Plant Week, 2023

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Recap: October 16-20, 2023

Sparked by legislation drafted by Audubon South Carolina, the South Carolina Native Plant Week was first introduced as a resolution to the state legislature in 2017 and signed into law by Governor McMaster in April 2018.

This resolution recognized that “native plants are essential for healthy, diverse, and sustainable ecosystems,” and permanently established the third week of October as Native Plant Week in South Carolina.”

This year the big week… well, um. Didn’t see a lot of action. But we’re hoping to change that!

Send ideas to [email protected] (for any part of the state, not just up here in nose-bleed land!), and we’ll see if we can’t get next year’s party started!