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#06-18 January 23, 2006

State's plant atlas featured on web site

Nature and gardening enthusiasts on the Internet can now learn about South Carolina's native and introduced plant "citizens" through county distribution maps and photos posted on a regularly-updated plant atlas web site. Nearly 3,000 species of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals - some illustrated by color photographs - from the wilds of South Carolina and their county distributions can be found inside the South Carolina Plant Atlas on the Internet. Species are listed by scientific or Latin name.

The South Carolina Plant Atlas Web at http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/herb/ will be useful to those interested in natural history, botany or horticulture. Important geographical information on the state's indigenous and exotic flora are just a click away. For example, the site shows where the once common native tree, Long Leaf Pine (Pinus palustris), grows naturally and would thrive if planted. The spread of introduced pest species like Florida Betony (Stachys floridana) can be followed. County discoveries of new or rare species like MayWhite Azalea (Rhododendron eastmanii) or Schweinitz's Sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii) can be observed.

Original photos to illustrate plants are being added to the Web site periodically with a list of common plant names planned for the future. Since new county and even new state records are being incorporated into the current set of maps, the Atlas should maintain its usefulness even as new scientific information is published or shared.

The University of South Carolina Herbarium, Clemson University Herbarium, the S.C. Heritage Program of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the original 1994 South Carolina Plant Atlas cooperators joined efforts to totally overhaul the state plant atlas including corrections, additions and deletions up through year 2003. New digital photos to illustrate plants are added to the site on a regular basis.

"All records shown in the on line plant atlas are based upon curated herbarium records, not anecdotal sightings, with many of the specimens further annotated by specialists," said Bert Pittman, S.C. Department of Natural Resources botanist. "Efforts to create an on line version of the Atlas, rather than a paper document were hastened by the power of personal computers."

Users of the plant atlas Web site http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/herb/ will need to know a plant's scientific or Latin name, at least the genus. Species are listed alphabetically by scientific or Latin name and a mouse click on a letter of the alphabet opens up a list of plant names.

Visiting the on line plant atlas the Web user will discover that violets (27 species in S.C.) are Viola; sunflowers (23 species in S.C.) are Helianthus; dogwoods (six species in S.C.) are Cornus; meadow beauties (nine species in S.C.) are Rhexia; and blueberries (18 species in S.C.) are Vaccinium. Wildflower books, some Internet sites and most catalogs include scientific names of plants with their common names. Common names of plants can vary widely, and many native plants have no common name, just the scientific one.

Plant specimen records used in the Atlas came from nearly all the herbaria in South Carolina, including collections at Charleston Museum, The Citadel, Clemson University, Coastal Carolina University, Erskine College, Francis Marion University, Furman University, Savannah River Ecology Lab, University of South Carolina Aiken, USC Columbia, USC Spartanburg, and USC Sumter. Recent additions to collections of rare and endangered species were examined at the U.S. National Herbarium, the New York Botanical Garden, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Duke University and Florida State University.

Data updates to the South Carolina Plant Atlas as well as comments on format and nomenclature may be addressed to: Dr. John Nelson, Curator, A.C. Moore Herbarium, Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, e mail: nelson@sc.edu. The South Carolina Plant Atlas Web site is maintained by Dr. T.A. Mousseau, Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, e mail mousseau@sc.edu.

The W.T. Batson Endowment named for well known USC Professor Emeritus Dr. Wade Batson of Cayce, is used to support the herbarium at the University of South Carolina with its earnings used for hiring students to work with the herbarium, purchasing equipment and supplies and other needs. Donations are tax deductible. Checks should be made payable to the USC Educational Foundation with Batson Endowment written in the note line and mailed to Professor John M. Herr Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208 or call at (803) 777-8110 in Columbia.

The W.T. Batson Endowment at Clemson University has been established to provide financial assistance to students completing a degree involving field botany studies within South Carolina. Donations can be made by sending a check to the following address: A. Wheeler, chair, Dept. of Biological Sciences, 132 Long Hall, Box 340314, Clemson, SC 29634-0314. The check needs to be made out to the Clemson University Foundation with the memo line: W.T. Batson Endowment.

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