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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rocky Shoals Spider Lillies

Today we travelled to South Carolina to Landsford Canal State Park which is on the Fall Line where the Appalachian Piedmont meets the coastal Atlantic plain. The Fall Line derives its name from the occurrence of waterfalls and rapids that are the inland barriers to navigation on all the region’s major rivers. Navigation was tough but water-power was great so it was a good place to unload your grain and set up a mill.

The warm water running over the southern rocky shoal stretches of the Fall Line are the perfect habitat for Hymenocallis coronaria, a rare and beautiful spider lily. In late May, this aquatic plant blooms in abundance. We saw it yesterday. It was absolutely gorgeous. Maybe next year we'll take a trip to canoe amongst them.
The rare rocky shoal spider lily emits a fragrance that also attracted naturalist William Bartram who was credited with first describing the rocky shoals spider lily in 1773. “After observing a population in the Savannah River near Augusta, he wrote, ‘Nothing in vegetable nature is more pleasing than the odoriferous Pancratium fluitans, which alone possesses the little rocky islets which just appear above the water.’”

Landsford Canal State Park is also home to the best preserved of numerous 19th-century South Carolina river canals and it retains remnants of all its major structural features. It is the uppermost of four canals constructed on the Catawba-Wateree river system from 1820-1835. During this period, boats used the canals to bypass rapids while carrying goods to and from the coast. There are historic ruins of canal-culverts, stone bridges, locks, an historic mill site and a lockkeeper's house which contains interpretive exhibits about the canal system in South Carolina.
Land's Ford also is associated with the Revolutionary War. Thomas Sumter's troops crossed there on their way to the Battle of Hanging Rock. And the main British army under Lord Cornwallis crossed the Catawba there in October 1780 when it fell back from Charlotte after the Battle of Kings Mountain.

We also saw a heron, an eagle's nest and a blue-tailed skink.

All photos by T and H.

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