Back to All Events

Sandhills Botany at Peachtree

  • Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve (map)

Join us for a hike through Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in Lexington County with expert botanist, Dr. John Nelson! We will begin at 9:00am, and spend the day exploring Sandhills ecology and botany of this 460-acre preserve which is co-managed by The Nature Conservancy and the SC Department of Natural Resources. Bring your lunch to enjoy on the trail, and we will have you back to your car around 2pm.

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in Lexington County is named for the recently fallen large sandstone formation once seen standing upon entering the preserve. Diverse plant communities ranging from bogs to xeric sandhill scrub can be found in Peachtree Rock Preserve. The area harbors a swamp tupelo-evergreen shrub bog and a longleaf pine ecosystem. Typical sandhill scrub vegetation, including pines, turkey oaks, and sparkleberry bushes, are present in abundance on the preserve. The federally endangered Rayner's blueberry is found growing on the seepage slope within the longleaf pine forest.


Visitors can observe moisture-loving plants, including mountain laurel and the crane-fly orchid. The latter's leaves are visible during winter and spring. The flowering spike, which is 4 to 20 inches tall, appears during September. Near the waterfall, several fern communities can be observed, and
maple-leafed viburnum grows in abundance here. Sand myrtles, titi and sweet pepper bush dominate the seepage slopes. Two contrasting plant communities can be noted here: the shade and moisture-loving galax, normally found only in cool mountain environments, and Solidago pauciflosculosa, a unique woody goldenrod, which grows on drier slopes.

John Nelson Herbarium.jpg

This class will be taught by Dr. John Nelson, Curator of the Herbarium within the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia. John received his Bachelor's degree in biology from USC, where he was a student and protégé of Wade T. Batson. He received his Masters degree in botany at Clemson University, where a student under the direction of John E. Fairey III, and where his taxonomic interests focused on southeastern species of the genus Stachys in the mint family. He received his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Florida State University, as a student of Loran C. Anderson, where he studied the floral anatomy of Haplopappus, in the sunflower family. His academic training was followed by six years within the SC Heritage Program, as ecologist and then botanist. He assumed his position as the Curator of the USC Herbarium in 1990, and he teaches a plant taxonomy class. Nelson remains active in the study of Stachys, particularly the North American species. During his tenure as its curator, the herbarium has more than doubled in terms of accessioned collections. The Herbarium remains committed to public service through a formal offering of free plant identifications, and through a regular, weekly newspaper column called “Mystery Plant”, and he is very pleased to be regularly invited as the “Mystery Doctor with the Mystery Plant” in Clemson’s “Making it Grow!” SCETV series. He is an active plant collector within a variety of field projects within South Carolina.

Peachtree Rock Ferns.jpg

Where:  This training will take place at Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve, in the midlands and Sandhills Region of South Carolina.  The website, which includes directions, can be found by clicking here.
When:  Monday, April 1st, 2019
9:00 am until 2:00 pm
Who: This training is open to the public. No prior knowledge is required. Minimum age is 16. For SC Master Naturalists, this event can count as Advanced Training and towards your statewide certification if you need a Sandhills component. Lunch will last thirty minutes, so depending on when we finish, this will count for approximately 4.5 hours of training.
If you are not a Master Naturalist, just come have fun with us. Participants will also receive contact info of other participants to allow for carpooling to the preserve.  

Other Important Notes:

•    If available, please bring a hand lens
•    Restrooms are not available at the preserve.  Please plan to stop before you arrive. Pink and blue bushes are along the trail…

•    Participants should bring a bag lunch and water to carry in your backpack, and be prepared for a day in the field. 

•    There is no rain date for this event.  We will make every effort to hold it, even in a few rain showers.  If it looks like a deluge, we'll notify you of cancellation and refund your money.

•    After registering, you will receive important correspondence via email.  If you change your email between now and then, make sure to notify us.

Cost: The cost is $60.00 per person and limited to the first 20 people that register.  

Questions?   Contact Sara Green through email or by calling (803) 256-0670.
IMPORTANT: Participants should be in good physical shape. Trail includes mild descent into the preserve (and then ascent back out), and we will cover some distance.