Rare rocky shoal spider lily in bloom on the Savannah River
The rare plant is only found in Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama and blooms will likely only last a few more weeks.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s a special time of year on the Savannah River near Augusta. If you’ve been in the shoals lately, you may have noticed beautiful white flowers with long green stalks. These are the Rocky Shoal Spider Lilies, which are rare and protected.
Dr. Donna Wear, a professor with Augusta University, has studied the lilies for over 20 years and says, “we should consider this part of our heritage and we should want to protect it”.
She says they were first identified by William Bartram during his “Great Adventure” in the 1770s. Dr. Wear added, “Rocky Shoal Spider Lily was first identified by Bartram somewhere in this shoals area, so literally the Augusta shoals area when he came through. It’s pretty remarkable”.
Dr. Wear says they are only found in three states, “South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama and they occur, as it’s called, Rocky Shoal Spider Lily, they’re found in these rocky shoals”.
Dams and deer are the main culprit for why these plants are so rare today. Deer actually wiped out a third cluster of lilies that used to be found near the Pump Station around North Augusta on the Savannah River. Dams have inundated other populations upstream.
Dr. Wear added, “please don’t pick them! Don’t try to dig them up! They aren’t going to do well. They are a protected species in Georgia, so technically it’s against the law”.
They typically start to bloom in early May and Dr. Wear thinks we still have a few weeks of seeing them in bloom if you want to check them out. Dr. Wear and her students have not been able to survey our local populations of the lilies since Covid started, but she is looking forward to being back out surveying later this fall.
There are two populations of the lilies in the Savannah River Shoals and also a population in Stevens Creek. For more information on the Stevens Creek population you can click here.
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