The transition from the Sandhills to the Piedmont is marked by one very predominant feature – rocks! Granite to be specific. Granite comes to the surface in many areas of the Piedmont. Each expanse of granite provides a unique island of open, droughty conditions that have allowed plants with desert-like adaptations to find a home amidst the dense woodlands and forests.
These rocks bake with near boiling heat at their surface in the summer. However, during the winter and through the spring, when temperatures are cool, water pools on the rocks' surfaces and flows through small crevices along their faces. Life has found a way to thrive here with species such as prickly pear cactus and desert-adapted ferns, like the woolly lip fern, and spikemoss, which can lose almost all of its water and then spring back to life, giving it the name “resurrection moss.”
Here we find some of the most bizarre and rare species in the Carolinas. With names like Puck’s orpine and snorkelwort, these plants also take the cake for odd titles.
These unique places draw the attention of people, and excessive visitation has led to the loss of a large portion of our rare plants on heavily visited sites. The exhibit here will allow us to bring visitors into a very fragile habitat while helping to conserve some of these endangered plants in cultivation.