Early Spring Botanizing in Northwestern South Carolina — 2018-02-24

A few days ago, I received a couple of email messages relating to the Spring wildflowers in our area of northwestern South Carolina. The first one was from a Flickr friend, Gordon Magee, informing me that if I wanted to see the mass blooming of Erythronium umbilicatum or Dimpled Trout Lilies at a nearby preserve called Nine Times, I’d better get on it, because they were currently in full bloom. What!?! I was hoping to wait another week or so before including this preserve in my schedule. The next day, I opened my email inbox and saw a message from a good friend and photographer, Bill Robertson, wondering if I wanted to spend Saturday botanizing in the upstate of South Carolina. Of course, said “I sure do!”. So we made plans to meet at a local restaurant for breakfast and plan our day trip.

After breakfast, we began our trip, heading toward a great spot for Trillium and several other Spring ephemerals. This location is called Oconee Station Falls, near the site of old Oconee Station, a stone blockhouse used as a military outpost by the S.C. State Militia and for trading with Native Americans from about 1792 to 1799. It appears in the “wilds” of early South Carolina history.

The day looked perfect for photography, overcast or at least mostly cloudy, and the temps were in the low 70’s (F); low 20’s (C). We loaded our camera gear and began the trek down the gently sloping trail to the 60-foot (18-meter) waterfall at the end of the trail. The trail, itself, is about .75 miles (1.2 km) long in each direction, and there is a great deal to see at almost any time of the year. However, Spring is the most popular time because of the explosion of wildflowers found in the cove forest. Early on, we began seeing Trillium cuneatum or Little Sweet Betsy plants along the trail, it was not until we reached the lower elevation area of the cove forest where we saw our first blooming plant, Sanguinaria Canadensis or Blood Root; so named because of the ooze of red liquid that appears when its rhizome is crushed. The pure white petals and bright, golden-yellow stamens make this a favorite of lovers of Spring wildflowers. Here is a shot of this beauty:

Blood Root Blood Root

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First blog post of 2018: Visit to a state Heritage Preserve for Dimpled Trout Lilies — 2018-02-18

Finally! This winter’s Cabin Fever spell is broken! Lately, I’ve been quite envious of my photography buddies in Florida for their ability to photograph early season wildflowers, many similar to those that are found in our region.

This past Sunday, Walter Ezell and I drove 35 miles (56 km) to one of my favorite state Heritage Preserves: Eva Russell Chandler Heritage Preserve in upper Greenville County, South Carolina. Around this time of year, one of our earliest blooming wildflowers, Erythronium umbilicatum or Dimpled Trout Lily, sometimes called Dog-tooth Violet comes into bloom. This tiny, 3/4-inch (1.9-cm), bright yellow wildflower manages to poke its head through the leaf litter to grace the forest floor with its delicate beauty.

This particular location is not known for its masses of blooming lilies; rather the plants are scattered just off the trail and offer the opportunity to get full plant images separated from the other lily plants. At this site, the flowers bloom as soon as a month earlier than at other similar sites in the upstate of South Carolina. I’ve been to locations where getting a clear full-plant image is almost impossible due to the close proximity of other blooming plants. In another month or so, I will visit another location, Nine Times Preserve, in a neighboring county, where there are thousands of Dimpled Trout Lilies, crowded in and among themselves.

Here is an example of this wonderful flowering plant:

Dimpled Trout Lily Dimpled Trout Lily

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