Monday, April 7, 2014

Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia)

April 2nd, 2014. We made a short trip over to Devil’s Fork State Park, South Carolina in search of Shortia galacifolia (Oconee Bells, Southern Shortia) and Monotropsis odorata (Pygmy Pipes, Appalachian Pygmy Pipes, Sweet Pinesap). One of the best places to see these wildflowers is the Oconee Bells Trail in Devil’s Fork State Park. 

The Oconee Bells Trail is a loop trail less than 1.5 miles in length. The trail begins at the end of a parking lot for a boat ramp and descends through a deciduous forest with a rhododendron understory to creeks below. We followed the trail in a counterclockwise direction. The trail is well-developed; its descent is more precipitous in some places but allows for an easier ascent back to the trailhead. 

The first access to photograph the Oconee Bells was near the interpretive sign (to the lower left in this photo.) Most of the plants had finished blooming but we found… 

a few clusters of plants that allowed us to photograph… 

specimen flowers and leaves.

The trail followed the creek

The plants were clustered along the banks and didn’t extend far beyond.

The trail then ascended to the top of a ridge where we had our first evidence of Monotropsis odorata but couldn’t find the plants. before it descended again to the creek at the southernmost end of the trail and more Oconee Bells… 

growing on rocks above the creek as well as...

Along the creek bank. 

Oconee Bells or Southern Shortia (Shortia galacifolia) is found only in a few counties in South and North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia. The best time to see these flowers is during March. 

From here the trail followed the hillside up to the top of the ridge where we began the search for Pygmy Pipes

Identification resources: 
- Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Shortia galacifolia (Oconee Bells, Southern Shortia) 
- Flora of the Southeast: Shortia falacifolia var. falacifolia

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