Ecosystem - Carolina Bay

ECOSYSTEM - Carolina Bay
When the first pilots flew over the Coastal Plains of Georgia and the Carolinas, they
were shocked to notice a seemingly endless number of elliptical depressions dotting the
landscape, all oriented in the same direction as though something from outer space created
them. These unusual formations are Carolina Bays, and their origin is a great scientific

The Carolina Bay ecosystem is threatened and a focus for conservation. As agriculture made
its impact on the coastal plain, farmers learned that the Bays had good soil properties for
crop cultivation and many were subsequently drained and cleared. In addition, they are not
protected under the Clean Water Act because they are isolated wetlands and not part of the
country’s freshwater resources.

The site in The Natural Heritage Garden where we plan to exhibit a Carolina Bay is a small
retention pond that leaks – in fact, we have been calling it ‘Leaky Pond’ for many years. The
site is perfect for a bay because of its similar elliptical shape and NW-SE orientation. Our
Leaky Pond has a changing water level from winter to summer that will mimic the ecosystem
of a natural Carolina Bay – something called the ‘draw-down’ zone which is important for
herbaceous species diversity.

Carolina Bay

Almost everyone is familiar with the Venus Flytrap – a plant so strange that it prompted
Charles Darwin to say it was the most wonderful plant on earth. But did you know that
the only place it grows naturally is in the Carolinas? From Sundews to Pitcher Plants, there
are over 25 species of carnivorous plants native to the Carolinas. There will be a living
exhibit of all of these wondrous plants in The Natural Heritage Garden. This outdoor
classroom will teach visitors how these plants have adapted to poor soil conditions and
are able to trap their own supplemental ‘fertilizer’ in the form of insects. Let’s face it - this
exhibit is just plain FUN!

Carnivorous Plant