October 1999

Dear SCAN members,

Blue Wall Heritage Preserve proved to be quite a place! Twenty or so members and guests enjoyed beautiful scenery, great weather, and rich wildflower displays. Joe-pye-weed, native sunflowers, thistles eight feet tall (!), asters, wingstem, turtleheads, cardinal flower, spikenard, and rare species of mountain-mint and Oxypolis were in all their glory. The typical montane woody plants (rhododendron, mountain-laurel, hemlock) harbored those perhaps less noticed: buffalo-nut, hazelnut, Fraser magnolia, cucumber tree, basswood, and sweet birch–all in fruit. Lynn Smith excitedly observed a Diana butterfly in the parking lot–a beautiful sight seldom seen. A huge praying mantis in the process of producing its egg-case, and many beetles and other butterfly species kept the insect people busy. Birds were plentiful, too. Thanks to Robbie Allen for organizing and leading the trip so well.

See the Flora/Fauna List

On a related note, this last trip was truly a rich site, with much more to see on another visit. For example, spring would offer an entirely different list of wildflowers, birds, insects, etc. This and other sites can and should be visited by SCAN members independently, especially if the “official” trip is missed. Our new book, SCAN: the Second Ten Years is almost ready, and it will be your guide for such trips. In the process of writing it, all of SCAN’s site-maps and many descriptions have been updated and are now more standardized. USE YOUR MEMBERSHIP PRIVILEGES to request this information from SCAN Archivist, Virginia Winn. Do not forget that SCAN’s rich archive is one of the best perks of being in association with one another! SCAN is truly a clearinghouse of information on the natural world of this part of our world–and we need to remind every educator, naturalist, or potential new member of that fact!

Dee Hope

Notice of Trip Change: The October field trip will be to the North Carolina Nature Conservancy’s Mineral Springs Preserve, near Waxhaw, North Carolina.

Mineral Springs Preserve
Saturday October 23, 1999
10:30 am

On October 23, 1999, SCAN will visit a Nature Conservancy preserve just across the state border, near Waxhaw, North Carolina. Catherine McRae, a graduate student at UNC-Charlotte, will provide an introduction to this unique area. The Mineral Springs preserve harbors a remnant Piedmont Prairie ecosystem that is home to the federally endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower, Helianthus schweinitzii. This species is endemic to the central Piedmont portion of the Carolinas. A relatively large population of this species is found scattered throughout the glades here. A number of other rare plant species (Aster georgianus, Lotus helleri, etc.) will also be seen.

Fall is the best season to visit this preserve because many of the rare flowers found here will be in full bloom. The sunflowers themselves can grow to be ten feet tall and they have multiple small yellow composite flower heads. Insects, especially butterflies, should be abundant if the temperature is warm. The terrain at the site is flat and easily traversed but there are no trails.

Details: You can bring your lunch or drive a few miles back into Waxhaw to pickup lunch. There are no tables or restrooms available at the preserve. You’ll probably want to wear a hat and sunscreen, and bring along snacks and water while at the site.

Directions: From Columbia, head north on I-77. Take exit # 65, SC 9 EAST towards Lancaster. In Lancaster, take US 521 NORTH. A few miles after you pass Andrew Jackson State Park, turn RIGHT onto NC 75, and drive to Waxhaw, N.C.

In Waxhaw, stay on NC 75, pass the traffic light at the intersection for NC 16, continue on NC 75 for approximately 1.5 miles. Turn LEFT onto McNeely Road, and cross the railroad tracks. Turn RIGHT onto Valley Farm. Turn RIGHT onto Summer Lane (a dirt road). Park at the first dirt cul-de-sac on the right.