South Carolina Plant Conservation Alliance (SCPCA)

SCPCA Meeting January 23 10:00-3:00 Riverbanks Botanical Garden

The SCPCA will have a membership meeting January 23, 10:00-3:00 at Riverbanks Botanical Garden.


Many thanks to Andy Cabe and Riverbanks for hosting this meeting!

Here’s a link to a doodle poll to RSVP for the Membership Meeting. It would help to have an idea of how many people are coming.

If you know people who are interested in participating, please invite them!

Lunch: Bring your own. We hope this will facilitate productive (and fun!) discussions during the lunch hour.
Snacks: Coffee will be provided. Contributions to a snack table are welcome!


Proposed meeting agenda – subject to change as we see who is coming

10:00 Introduction to SCPCA – Amy
formed to provide boots on the ground to help prevent plant extinctions, website – please contribute!, what other state PCAs are doing: Amy

10:15 – 12:00 Species reports
American chaffseed 5-year review – April
Smooth coneflower: David White
May-white azalea: Charlie Horn
(These should be short, about 10 minutes each, depending on how many species leads can talk – regardless, we should end for lunch promptly at noon)
Possibly we can conclude with a short discussion of future 2018 projects and needs.

12:00-1:00 Lunch
Brown-bag lunch at facility or on patio (if it’s not freezing, and who knows what the weather will be!)

1:00 Group Discussion: Species leads: what should they do?
Plus: what other projects might we want to take on, monitoring/surveying/safeguarding needs, plus FUNDING!!!

2:00-3:00 Education on Plant Conservation
For example:
2:00 T&E Rare Species Propagation and Enhancement Best Practices – Patrick
2:20 Population Monitoring Projects and Protocols – Robin
2:40 Sharing and Maintenance of Conservation Data – Biotics (Status) – Kathy and Herrick
NB: or something like this; speakers and topics subject to change.

3:00 Meeting adjourns

Venus flytrap: submit comments

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed initial reviews of Endangered Species Act (ESA) petitions for five species and found that each presents substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted. As a result, the oblong rocksnail, tricolored bat, sicklefin chub, sturgeon chub and Venus flytrap will each undergo a thorough status review to determine whether or not they warrant protection under the ESA. The tricolored bat and Venus flytrap occur in South Carolina.

The notice for the above findings is available in the Federal Register. Visit the link to submit comments in support of this petition.

The insect-eating Venus flytrap naturally occurs within a narrow range of longleaf pine habitat in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. It is believed to have been lost from large portions of its historical range due to fire suppression and loss of habitat from agriculture, silviculture, and residential and commercial development. Poaching for illegal trade is also believed to be a threat, as well as inadequate existing regulations for protecting the species. The flytrap is legally grown commercially and by hobbyists, and these approved activities do not involve removing plants from the wild.

The tricolored bat is found in 38 states and the District of Columbia, from Florida to Canada, west to Colorado, and in Mexico and Guatemala. One of the primary threats to the bat is thought to be white-nose syndrome (WNS), which is caused by a fungus that spreads between individuals in hibernating bat colonies. In recent years, WNS has killed millions of bats that hibernate in North America, including the northern long-eared bat, which was listed as threatened under the ESA in 2015.

As the Service begins its in-depth review of these species, it is important that the agency has the best and most up-to-date information possible to inform the decision-making process. The public can play a role by sending pertinent scientific and commercial data and other information for us to consider in the status reviews. Complete instructions for submitting comments are provided in the Federal Register notice.

Three species of ferns found for the first time in South Carolina at Lake Jocassee

Patrick D. McMillan, PhD

I am constantly surprised by the diversity we have yet to uncover in the Jocassee Gorges. One of the most profound discoveries was made over 80 years ago by botanists, William Chambers Coker, Henry Totten when they uncovered ferns such as Appalachian Filmy Fern (Trichomanes boschianum) which are from tropical families and Mary Taylor who found Tunbrige Fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense), a tropical filmy fern, growing far from its nearest location in Jamaica along the gorges of the Eastatoe River. Since then a second tropical disjunct was located, Single-sorus Spleenwort (Asplenium monanthes), reported by Blomquist (1945). Only one other similar addition was made in the general area when John Townsend and Steven Platt located what they thought was Wright’s Cliffbrake (Pellaea wrightiana) growing on an outcrop near Sunset, SC. When that specimen was scrutinized it turned out to be misidentified and actually represented a much more impressive addition, Arizona Cliffbrake (Pellaea ternifolia ssp. arizonica) – the first record for eastern North America of this desert fern. The discovery made during the first weeks of December 2017 have to be added to the great chronicles of fern discoveries in the gorges and are among the most profound of my career.

During our November first Sunday expedition, Kay Wade informed me that she had found what she thought was Purple Cliff Brake (Pellaea atropurpurea) growing along a man-made cliff on the lakeshore. I was surprised to hear this as that species is limited to limestone and calcium-rich amphibolite and the cliff she was referring to was granitic and highly acidic. During our first Sunday expedition on December 3rd, she and Dan Whitten, who had also seen the plants on a prior trip, decided to take us to the cliff to see the plant. I recognized the plant from 50 feet away as definitely not being Purple Cliff Brake but rather Wright’s Cliffbrake! Here we were looking at what we would soon realize was a population of over 2000 plants of a desert fern normally found in Arizona and western Texas! This species is known from only two small populations in the eastern United States, both in the piedmont of North Carolina. What a day! I quickly spread the word to my botanical friends and we soon found ourselves back out on the lake looking closer at the site and taking photographs with Richard Porcher and Edward Pivorun. While gazing up the cliff-face I was completely shocked to find yet another incredible and unexpected fern – Wavy Cloak Fern (Astrolepis sinuata ssp. sinuata)! This is another desert fern known only from one other location east of Texas, Meriweather County, Georgia. I was astonished to find out that this plant was represented here with somewhere between 400 and 500 vigorous clumps. Further scrambling along the base of the cliff allowed me to find what may be the most surprising fern, a third desert species – Copper Fern (Bommeria hispida)! This is the very first record of this incredible and tiny fern with triangular fronds in the eastern United States.

While we could easily access a few of the plants of Wright’s Cliffbrake the Cloak Fern and Copper Fern could only be viewed through binoculars. We returned on December 14th with a younger member of the group and expert climber, Cody Davis. Cody easily scrambled up the rock and we now have a few fronds of each species dried and in the herbarium at Clemson University to officially document these incredible ferns as new to South Carolina and one as new to the eastern United States.

Now the big question is, how did they get here? The site where the ferns are located is granite cliffs that were created by humans during the construction of the Jocassee Dam in the late 1960’s-early 1970’s. The entire hillside was blasted, quarried and denuded of all vegetation – completely! You can see the site during construction by watching the first minute and a half of the movie Deliverance. The question of where they originated may never be solved but there may yet be other populations found on the natural outcrops around the lake. A local source would seem most plausible but there are other explanations. The three ferns found on this cliff are quite abundant in the desert Southwest and they are constantly shedding spores that could make their way into the upper air currents and settle here in this horseshoe-shaped, enormous cliff-face. The desert ferns are found on southwest and western exposures but the shape of the cliff forms a cove and even provides a north-facing exposure where we located another Pickens County record, Southern Shieldfern (Thelypteris kunthii) growing just above the water surface. The moderation provided by the lake, the drainage provided by the cliff and the unique weather of the area in general have all come together to transform something that was in fact the destruction of an entire mountain by us in 1968 into a paradise for ferns that are known nowhere else in our state. What a story.

I speak dozens of times a year, all over the country about the uniqueness of the Gorges region. I now have an even richer story to tell. This area is well-known for its fern, bryophyte and overall diversity. It may now rank as the richest fern flora in the Appalachians and indeed in the USA, with 62 species just within the gorges of this small area of western Pickens County, where the recent discovery was made. It is astonishing that the variety of microhabitats and microclimates of this unique landscape have provided habitats for plants more at home in Jamaica, Veracruz and Arizona! What a wonderful world we live in and what a precious gem we have in the Jocassee Gorges!


Plant Trees in Marietta Dec. 15

TreesGreenville is planting trees on Naturaland Trust’s North Saluda property on December 15. Sign up to join them here. Contact Kylie Stackis for questions about other tree plantings or tree care events. Kylie can be reached at 678-863-7189 or

Summer Studies 1631

by Christopher Blackwell (Furman professor and editor of Botanica Caroliniana)

This is a poster listing Courses for Summer Semester (“Ordo Lectionum Aestivarum”) from the University of Leiden, 1631. Eric Kwakkel, who is a librarian at Leiden, found this in the archives. He says it still has glue on the back from when it hung on a wall.

The class not to miss is the 5:00 pm one with Dr. Vorstius, who will “have lectures for the public, during the summertime, in the Botanical Garden.” That must have been extremely pleasant on golden summer afternoons in the Netherlands.

Other observations: There are three tracks: Medicine, Law, and Religion/Philosophy. The courses are scheduled so that lectures in each track don’t conflict. We read at the bottom that Anatomy Lab (“Exercitia Anatomica” is at 3:00, as is proper). There is one evening class, listed at the end… Dr. Benningius’ lecture on Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics at 9:00 pm.

The best titles are Dr. Heinsius, who is “Most Illustrius and Powerful Doctor of Divinity of Holland and Historian of the Nobility of West Frisia, Professor of Histories, Academic Librarian, and Political and Historical Secretary”, followed by Dr. Vossius, who is “Professor of Eloquence and Universal Chronology”, and Dr. Screvelius, “Medical Doctor and Professor, and Academic Rector pro tempore.”

There is a break at noon for lunch, clearly. And no one really wants to lecture or attend lectures directly after lunch, so the only thing at “Hora Prima” (1:00 pm) is some esoteric stuff by the Arabic Language Professor (presumably on the assumption that those students would show up whenever).

The long paragraph at the top basically says, “It occurs to us that we need to publish a course schedule, so here it is. And our faculty is very famous.”

It is printed by none other than Abraham Elsevir himself.

Introduced Biodiversity at the Colosseum

The most amazing Twitter thread…. When botanists started exploring the Colosseum in the 1800s, they discovered it was full of plants that were not at all native to the region. How did they get there? Could it have been as seeds stuck to the fur of the African animals brought there to fight?

Natural History is Back

Natural history, including botany, has been out of fashion at universities for years, pushed aside by biochemistry, genetics, and the sexy high-tech disciplines. Now it appears to be making a comeback. Undark reports that zoology, botany, and natural history are once again popular at universities such as Harvard and Berkeley. It’s cool to be a plant nerd!

Volunteer Opportunity: Crosby Oxypolis Heritage Preserve

Just wanted to remind everyone about the below volunteer opportunity, we will be limiting the group of volunteers to 15 people total. Therefore you must RSVP in order to participate. Let me know as soon as you can as I have only heard from a couple of folks so far. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

RSVP to:

Thanks-James Fowler, SCDNR
Please come enjoy a day (Friday, December 1, 2017) helping to remove woody plants to promote Canby’s Dropwort (Oxypolis canbyi), with us! We will use hand shears and loppers to cut down species such as regenerating pine, sweetgum, maple, and other misc. hardwoods. We will start the day around 10 a.m. and conclude around 2 p.m. (or adjust time as needed). Bring snacks and waters, field clothes, yard tools (pruners and loppers). Look forward to seeing and meeting some of you!

Location: Crosby Oxypolis Heritage Preserve (Latitude: 32.887 Longitude:-80.807) near Walterboro, SC
To reach the preserve from Walterboro, travel west on SC Highway 63 for about 9 miles until the junction with County Road 191. The preserve is located in the southeast corner formed by these two roads.

Please RSVP so I can have a head count
Time: 10am-2pm tentatively

James “Trapper” Fowler
Region IV Heritage Trust Coordinator
420 Dirleton Rd.
Georgetown, SC 29440
(843) 546-8119 (office)

Save Plants

Here’s a link to the Center for Plant Conservation’s latest newsletter. It’s a nice look at some plant conservation projects around the U.S.

World Flora Online

Researchers at four of the world’s biggest botanical gardens (Kew, MOBOT, Edinburgh, NYBG) have been creating an online database of all the world’s plant species. The database will be open-access and will involve participation from institutions around the world.