NOC-Conference -- August 2004

Slideshow - by Doris Ames and Peggy Bainard Acheson

00 - Introduction:
In August, Native Orchid Conservation Inc (NOCI) made it possible for Peggy and I to attend the annual conference of Native Orchid Conference (NOC) at Coastal Carolina University, in Conway South Carolina, as representatives of our society. NOC is a group that is interested in the preservation of native orchid species for all of North America. We attended lectures by orchid experts from the US and Canada and met many interesting people there. We also had the opportunity to go on two extensive field trips to see southern native orchid species. We enjoyed the trip very much and found the things we learned there very useful. We prepared this little powerpoint presentation from some of our photos, with Eugene's help, so that we could share some of our experiences with you. I hope you enjoy it.

01 - Doris getting on plane in Winnipeg.

02 - Aerial view of downtown Chicago showing Lake Michigan and major freeway.

03 - O'Hare Chicago Airport - one of world's largest and busiest airports.

04 - Peggy getting on plane in Chicago bound for Columbia, SC.

05 - Columbia Airport - potted palms and rocking chairs, brand new airport - introduction to old South.

06 - Doris trying out rocking chairs lining the main waiting area in Columbia Airport.

07 - The entrance to Coastal Carolina University

08 - E. Craig Wall Building (College of Business Administration) at CCU where conference was held. Campus is all red brick buildings with white pillars surrounded by beautiful gardens and trees.

09 - Example of pitch pines (Pinus rigida) found on the campus, full of cicada beetles singing loudly in the extreme heat and humidity of the day.

10 - Frances Marion National Forest sign. First field trip on 2nd day of conference, Sunday, August 8th. 250,000 acres. Added additional 700 acres since our trip. Approximately 20 miles north of Charleston, SC. Named for a famous revolutionary war (1775-1783) hero, General Frances Marion, known as the Swamp Fox. Said to be the inventor of guerrilla warfare. He made the swamps of this region his base of operations and successfully hid from the British in them.

11 - Doris in wet part of a tropical hammock, which is an elevated piece of land or a ridge in the midst of a marshy region. One of many types of habitat on the coastal plains. A hammock is like a jungle, it's full of catbrier vines (Smilax rotundifolia), with very sharp thorns. We saw a black cottonmouth snake about 3 ft long on the side of the creek. It is a type of poisonous pit viper; the bite is often fatal. We refrained from trying to get a close-up as we would have had to go on its side of the creek.

12 - NOC President Dave McAdoo telling us "like it is" in the Cypress hammock.

13 - Palmetto palm, state tree of South Carolina. Inodes Palmetto, the Sabal Palmetto. Sometimes called the Cabbage Palm because it has a cabbage-like growth in the centre of the leaves that is good to eat. The leaves on a mature tree are huge, growing on stocks 6-7 feet long. Has yellow and white flowers that hang in long drooping clusters from the centre of the tree followed by shiny, black berries. Used for ornamental purposes.

14 - Poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum). Thick vine that grows around trees. If you touch it you can get a severe poison ivy-like rash. Dave warned us about it.

15 - Forest floor in the hammock was littered with these strange-looking nuts from the sweet gum trees. (Liquidambar styraciflua) They have shiny, five-pointed leaves that look like stars. Sweet gum lumber has a beautiful grain and lustre and is called "satin walnut" when made into furniture.

16 - Platanthera flava var. flava. This is the first native orchid we saw, called Tubercled orchid or Southern rein orchid. The special feature of this orchid is a little bump (or tubercle) on the lip that is thought to play some role in pollination.

17 - Crane fly orchid (Tipularia discolor). This is a genus we do not have here. The greyish brown flowers look like insects. The leaves over-winter much like our own Calypso.

18 - Banana spider (Nephrila clavipes). We saw some huge specimens here at Huger's Boat Landing, the site of an old rice plantation.

19 - Female banana spider. These spiders had large webs with "zippers" in them to warn birds not to fly through them. The webs are so strong that you could feel the "bounce".

20 - Lubber grasshopper (Romalea guttata). Female is about 4" long and 1" thick. These grasshoppers have a lot of red colour on them which warns birds they are poisonous. They are so large that they can't fly and can only jump a short distance, but seemed very unafraid.

21 - Dr. Joytsnya Sharma. Editor of the NOC Journal.

22 - Water spider orchid (Habenaria repens). The whitish-green flowers resembles a water spider, but the ones we saw were only in bud.

23 - Long leaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannah in Frances Marion National Forest. These magnificent pines have huge cones and needles in clusters of three. This was the primary species of the southern coastal plain. Today only these small remnants remain of the original habitat. Unfortunately most are unprotected as they are on private land and we saw some being harvested close to Myrtle Beach for new developments. They were once used all over the world to build ships as the wood doesn't rot easily. In the early years, the long leaf pine formed the basis for the turpentine and rosin industry.

24 - Long leaf pine seedling. Efforts are underway in FMNF to replant these magnificent trees, which are very slow growing.

25 - Butterfly weed (Aesclepias lanceolata) a type of milkweed, found in its natural habitat.

26 - Group members taking pictures of one of the orchids in the savannah.

27 - Blazing-star (Liatris spp.) in its natural habitat. Note the arrangement of buds in the centre, in the characteristic Fibonacci Spirals.

28 - Trumpet pitcher plants (Sarracenia flava). Extremely large ( 3-4 feet high) and very yellow.

29 - Yellow-fringed orchid (Platanthera ciliaris). You may have noticed the write-up in the newsletter. "Ciliaris" means "eye-lashes" referring to the fringes on the lip. One of two yellow, fringed orchids we saw. The other one is crested-fringed orchid. P. ciliaris is larger, more orange in colour, and has a longer spur than the "yellower" crested-fringed orchid.

30 - Close-up of P. ciliaris. Note the heavy eye-lashes.

31 - Close-up of flower cluster. More apricot-coloured in this case.

32 - Crested-fringed orchid (Platanthera cristata). Bright yellow and often found growing in large clumps. We saw a huge colony growing in sphagnum moss on the side of a roadside ditch

33 - Mallow (Malva spp). A pretty pink mallow which may be a rare plant.

34 - Large or Southern white-fringed orchid (P. blephariglottis var. conspicua). Flower head in bud. Only found in the wet meadows of the southern US. Grows up to one meter tall.

35 - B. var. conspicua flower spike. Note the extreme whiteness of these flowers.

36 - Close up of flower. Note long fringed lip, shock-white flowers and long spur.

37 - Large fringed-orchid or Southern white (P. blephariglottus var. conspicua.)

38 - Myrtle Beach at sunset. Only 8 miles from Conway it is one of the most popular beaches in North America. Peggy and I enjoyed an evening swim in the 79 degree F salt water of the Atlantic. The salt took care of our chigger bites and other wounds. After enduring daytime temperatures in the 90's and 100% humidity we found the water refreshing.

39 - Peggy by the Waccamaw River in Conway. This beautiful, old and slow-moving river travels 140 miles from its headwaters at Lake Waccawaw in N.C. to the sea. Most of its water comes from the extensive wetlands in N.C. notably the Green Swamp and it is home to many rare plants and animals.

40 - Sidewheeler restaurant where we enjoyed southern specialities such as fried yams, okra and fish caught in the river. There were no set hours - dinner was finished when everyone was gone.

41 - Doris at Waccamaw River.

42 - Doris in front of Horry County Museum. In a very old building that contains many natural and cultural displays with artefacts from the aboriginal and pioneer days. Pictures of people on the old plantations. Also artefacts from industries that made turpentine from the long leaf pine. Founded in 1732 Conway is one of the oldest towns in the US and was an important industrial and shipping centre where lumber and turpentine were transported on the Waccamaw River that leads to the Atlantic. There are many old historic buildings and "live oak" trees. Its earliest citizens including Frances Marion, the Swamp Fox, fought the British in the American Revolution.

43 - Horry County Courthouse (Conway City Hall, later), built 1824.

44 - Across the street from the Courthouse is the Hanging Oak, a Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). The live oaks never have a dormant period and are constantly renewing their leaves. They grow to be very, very old and have great spreading crowns. They have shiny, oval green leaves that are not like our oaks at all. Along with Spanish moss and Resurrection ferns, these are the botanical symbols of the South. The Hanging Oak, circumference 9'5" was used for public executions for hundreds of years. The last hanging took place in 1909.

45 - Rod & Ted Gregg Civil War Collection. Housed in one part of a shooting gallery on Bypass 175 in North Myrtle Beach. They had a wonderful collection of artefacts, especially guns and knives relating to the Civil War, primarily the Confederate side. Conway citizens played a large part in the Civil War and the area had a few battles. These are rifled cannon shells, a new invention in the Civil War that allowed the heavier shot, with its greater accuracy and velocity, to demolish any stone fort.

46 - Replica military encampment with tripod and pots.

47 - Hand forged implements and tools.

48 - Union uniform.

49 - Confederate uniform.

50 - Gun carriage belonging to Confederate General, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, (not related to Andrew Jackson). This carriage was part of the field artillery and carried a small mobile 2.24" six-pounder field cannon.It was one of four that he named after the Apostles, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. He was a very religious man, but one of the most eccentric generals in the Confederate Army. Although he was a religious zealot, he fought his bloodiest battles on Sundays. Born in 1824 in Clarksburg, VA , like many an American soldier he was killed in 1863 by" friendly fire", having been accidentally shot by his own troops. Immediately after the South seceded, this cannon was hidden away on a Virginia plantation and not seen again until very recently when it was given to the Gregg brothers by a descendent of the plantation owners. This is so it would never fall into Union hands.

51 - Green Swamp Sign. The Green Swamp is a Nature Conservancy protected area in North Carolina comprising 16,000 acres. It's located in Coastal Plain Brunswick County, in the southern portion of NC. 13,000 acres of the swamp have spongy soil called pocosins that are edged by thickets of dense shrubbery called bay vegetation. The rest is long leaf pine savannah. The savannahs have a diverse herb layer with many orchids and insect-eating plants. There can be as many as 50 plants/m2 in the pocosins. Less than 1% of the long leaf pine ecosystem remains.

52 - Rice Creek. Bald Cypress Swamp. There are other Cypress trees called Pond Cypress, but these big ones are Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum). Note the above-ground roots called the "knees". They supply air to the plant because the trees are standing in water for long periods of time in these swamps. The knees can grow up to 6' high, depending on water depth.

53 - The old Cypress trees were hanging full with Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), a kind of epiphytic plant (air fern). One Georgia live oak apparently held over 5 Tons of moss.

54 - Cypress foliage. The South is the only place in the world where the Bald Cypress grows. They can grow to be over 1000 years old. A conifer, it sheds its needles like our Tamarack. Note the feathery needles. In the days before iron ships, Cypress was used for making sailing vessels because its wood is almost totally rot-proof.

55 - Crayfish chimney. Large crayfish also known as crawfish or crawdaddies, make these shelters with a front and back door out of mud. When the area floods and the fish swims by, the crayfish swims out of his house, grabs him, and pulls him back in. They also eat insects.

56 - NOC Treasurer, Mark Rose. Along with Dave, one of our field guides.

57 - Green fly orchid (Epidendrum magnoliae), an epiphytic orchid that grows high up in the Cypress trees. This one had fallen down in the mud during the last hurricane. Here at the northern limit of its range in North Carolina, it is not common at all. Dave did well to find it for us. It is growing here with its companion plant, Resurrection Fern (Polypodium polypodioides) - meaning many-footed. In dry weather, it is brown and dead looking, but after a rain shower, it quickly turns green.

58 - Yellow fringeless orchid (Platanthera integra). Golden yellow orchid with rough-edged lip. Grows in swampy meadows and pine barrens.

59 - Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula). The only area in the world that the VFT can be found growing in its natural habitat. It eats mostly ants here. Even though they are extremely rare, we could see holes where some had recently been dug up.

60 - Dave McAdoo and Ron Coleman, NOC President and Member At Large, respectively.

61 - Hooded pitcher plant (Saracenia minor). Very rare. Found in the same place as the VF Trap. Hooded pitcher plant is found in the Coastal Plain from southeastern North Carolina to the central Panhandle of Florida. A carnivorous, perennial herb. The hollow, trumpet-shaped leaves (pitchers) are green at the base, sometimes red above with conspicuous translucent "windows" at the top.

62 - Doris in the Green Swamp long leaf pine savannah, part of the Big Island swamp, located 5.5 miles north west of the town of Supply, NC. It is located in an Ecological Reserve which is burned in rotation about every 2-3 years. It was thick with wiregrass which is stimulated to bloom by fire while other grasses and shrubs are killed. Wiregrass keeps the roots of the orchids cool. The heat opens the pine cones and promotes their germination and does not hurt the pine trees. We saw P. cristata and P. nivea, but nivea had finished blooming. Very tall trumpet pitcher plants also grow there. It is also habitat for the rare Red-cockaded woodpecker.

63 - Yellow trumpet pitcher plant in bloom.

64 - Green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) on a pitcher plant. These spiders can give an extremely painful bite, but I had one on my pants and only got a gentle pinch. They don't build webs and catch their prey by jumping on it. They capture insects attracted to the pitcher plant and will sometimes pull them out of the leaves. The Nature Conservancy says that the Green Swamp is being damaged heavily by people walking on and digging up plants.

65 - Tobacco fields in rural South Carolina on our way back to Columbia to catch our plane home.

66 - Southern style Krumholz - actually fancy pruning courtesy of the electric company.

67 - Gift shop on way to Columbia. Sold lots of shell ornaments, fireworks, and cheap souvenirs as well as everyone's favourite, boiled peanuts.

68 - Boiled peanuts, aka goobers. Recommended to us by the man in the Civil War Museum, they are a local delicacy and one of the most disgusting things we tried to eat. This loathsome treat is not found in any respectable store, but in the sleaziest of convenience stores. Confederate civil war soldiers survived on these as they were likely the only protein available to them.
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69 - Chicago Airport on the way home. Note the black clouds from the edge of Hurricane Charley.

Also available: Trip-report to ConwaySC for the NOC-conference by Doris.