Sunday, June 8, 2008

No Shortage of Shortia in Devil's Fork

Monday morning after breakfast we met with with Mark Hall, a biologist and forester with South Carolina DNR. He was our source for site information on the South Carolina Shortia. He was a great source; knowledgeable, generous, helpful, even recommending a wonderful camp site for Monday night.

A portion of his duties involves overseeing Devil's Fork State Park. This park, in Oconee County, is appropriately home to a lot of Oconee Bells. Mark showed us to several large stands and directed us to more, leaving us on our own to collect seed while he, went off in search of what is the first recorded nesting of peregrine falcons in the park. On his return, he showed us pictures of a fledgling and then drove us to a stand of Xerophyllum asphodeloides, or Turkey beard. This is a very cool plant; from grassy clumps grow 3-4' flower stalks topped with an extravagant, almost elegant, inflorescence. There is a photograph of the flower head somewhere to the right. Other interesting plants that day were Polypodium polypodioides, the Resurrection Fern, Pediculars, Lousewort or Wood Betony, a variety of Trilliums setting seed, lots of and a wide variety of Ericaceous plants. We also saw great number of Magnolia fraseri, a plant I had been looking forward too.

Although we were successful at locating just about every station of Shortia Joan had targeted, the sheer volume of those stands in Devil's Fork, dwarfed everything else we saw the rest of the trip. Since we were permitted to collect seed there, that first day guaranteed the trip would be a success, but there was a lot of great stuff to come.

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