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Life Here: Local plants & animals make the Upstate a richer, healthier place

November 23rd, 2021

This is an excerpt from the Fall/Winter 2021-2022 issue of the Upstate Advocate, Upstate Forever's twice-yearly publication. To read a digital copy of the complete publication, please click here.

If you've followed Upstate Forever's work over the past few years, you've seen many references to the bunched arrowhead. UF has worked alongside partners like the Southern Environmental Law Center, The SC Environmental Law Project, and the SC Native Plant Society to protect this rare plant from the negative impacts of rapid development.

"Rare" is an understatement in this case. The bunched arrowhead, which lives in sensitive wetland habitat known as Piedmont seepage forest, has been found in only two places on the planet — Henderson County, NC, and Greenville County, SC. It is one of the rarest plants in the entire world, and it lives right in our "backyard."

But the bunched arrowhead is not the only ecological wonder to be found in the Upstate. Just as astonishing is the Blue Ridge Escarpment, an area of extraordinary beauty and biological diversity. More species of trees grow in the Escarpment than in all of Europe, and it is home to more than 300 species of rare plants.

Other areas are remarkable as well: Conestee Nature Preserve, just a few miles from the City of Greenville, treats visitors to glimpses of great blue herons, river otters, and migratory birds. The meadows of rural counties like Laurens and Abbeville provide habitat for pollinators, whitetail deer, and vanishing species of grassland birds. And the Clemson Experimental Forest is home to three SC Champion Trees — a chinquapin oak, a rusty blackhaw, and a white basswood that are judged to be the largest of their species in the state — as well as salamanders, insects, and aquatic life.

Just as fascinating are the ways that these special places, plants, and creatures impact people in the Upstate. Read on for stories and perspectives about the wild and wonderful lifeforms who call the Upstate home — and consider joining Upstate Forever in the effort to protect the critical lands and waters essential to their survival. 

Q&A with a Life Science Educator

Cherokee Plants and their uses

Trees for everyone & Why plant native trees?

The Upstate's best birding spots

A bicycle botany day trip

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