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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rocky Shoals Spider Lillies At Landsford Canal State Park

Despite living about 20 miles from the place, I have very rarely ever visited Landsford Canal State Park in the summertime. This is largely due to the abundance of snakes (particularly poisonous ones like the Cottonmouth Water Moccasin and Eastern Copperhead) along the Catawba River in the late spring and summer months. 

My personal hang-ups about certain reptiles aside, the summer months by the river are very hot and muggy here in South Carolina. I usually like to take trips to Lansford Canal in the late fall as the leaves have turned. That is when the place is at it's most picturesque. I plan to return in early, or mid November to get some photos of the river and the fall colors. 

I did have a particular mission on this late spring trip. To photograph the abundant -- and quite rarely seen -- Rocky Shoals Spider Lillies (Hymenocallis coronaria) that bloom in late May - June on the river. 

Landsford Canal State Park hugs the last free-flowing stretch of the Catawba River between Lake Wylie in York County and the Cedar Creek Dam at Great Falls. Along the site of historic Landsford Canal on the river are a large stretch of rocky shoals so close together that one can actually walk across the length of this shallow section of the river on them at certain times when the current is slow. It is on these shoals that the largest known stand of the beautiful Shoals Spider Lily bloom, blanketing that stretch of the river in an absolutely stunning display of white and green. 

The Shoals Spider Lily -- which can be found in both Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama -- requires clean free-flowing water with an uneven rocky bottom to root. Unfortunately, most of the free-flowing shoals on the Catawba River have largely vanished. This is primarily because of the hydroelectric dams built along the rocky elevation drops to take advantage of the natural water power. 

The Rocky Shoals Spider Lily has likewise become rare and endangered.  

Thankfully due to wise management in public, private and corporate groups working together in conservation and preservation efforts with the SC State Parks management, the spider lillies still have a place to grow and be appreciated by naturalists like myself. 

So on this trip I brought along my sister's little boys, both of whom had already run out of ideas for summer vacation and needed to get away from their online game systems for awhile -- though not because they wanted to, their mom made them go. Still they did have a good time and afterwards were treated to McDonalds. Yours truly abstained from the fast food. 

I hope that y'all appreciate the photos I took. I am sorry I could not get closer than the overlook at the end of the trail, but I wasn't about to go out on slippery rocks with two younger kids who's mom would kick my ass if either of them got snake bit walking on my watch while along the plants. That and the park rules make that area off limits to anyone but people going through on kayaks. 

Please enjoy the photos. 

Landsford Historical Marker.
If you look closely in the water you can see a Whooping Crane (Grus americana) standing in the water looking for a meal.
One of the locks of the old canal.
There are more of them but I am saving that and the story of the canal for my fall trip.
My nephews Caleab and Tyler Morris.
Found this little fella on the path. Have no idea what species of moth this harry little guy will turn into. We moved him to the nearby bushes and continued on.
At last we arrive at the shoals!
Tyler and Caleab make a new friend.

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