Certificate Program

The South Carolina Native Plant Certificate is a partnership between the South Carolina Native Plant Society and the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

In this program, participants discover the beauty and complexity of South Carolina's rich botanical heritage. Through hands-on, field-based classes, students learn about the native plants of the state. In the core classes, we study the native plant communities that define South Carolina by exploring the Garden's Natural Heritage Garden. Participants also learn about the significant benefits of native plants to enhance biodiversity, and to improve soil, water, and air quality. Our hope is that through this certificate program, graduates become more aware of environmental issues and become active stewards of the natural world. 

The core classes Natural Plant Communities, Tree ID, and Spring and Fall Herbaceous Plant ID, all use our Natural Heritage Trail and are thus located in the upstate. We are trying to offer Basic Botany, Sustainable Landscaping, and Basic Horticulture in other areas of the state as we are able.

Students will also have the opportunity to learn more about other ecosystems in South Carolina by taking elective classes.

Classes are taught by qualified professionals. The certificate program is composed of 7 core classes plus 4 electives. Students are not required to pursue a Certificate in order to enroll.

Core classes are scheduled bi-yearly. Basic botany is offered in spring (typically late February or early March) and fall (late August or early September) and the other core classes are also offered in both the spring and fall of the year.

Please note that Basic Botany is a prerequisite for all core classes, not electives. There are no exceptions to this.  This course enables everyone to be on the same page at the beginning of the program.  You may have taken botany in a variety of educational situations, and we acknowledge that, but for the purposes of this certificate, you must take basic botany with our instructors. 

This is a fieldwork-based course and classes can be physically demanding. The South Carolina Native Plant Certificate is predominately an outdoor program. As such, access to some sites visited by the class requires hiking on trails of moderate difficulty. Participants must be in good physical condition and able to hike 1-2 miles, without difficulty or assistance, over terrain with steep sections, where footing will be uneven, with frequent tree roots, rocks, muddy areas, and fallen tree trunks to climb or step over. Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots are required. Do not register if you are unable to meet the physical demands that will be encountered in this course.

Friends and SCNPS members - please contact Sue Watts for the appropriate discount code:  watts9@clemson.edu Class size is limited. 

Cancellation Policy:

  • Cancellations made at least 5 business days prior to the class will be subject to a 20% processing fee.
  • Class registration can not be transferred to other classes.
  • Cancellations made 5 business days before the class will be refunded at the discretion of the SCBG.

To register, click on the links below for a specific class.

To download a brochure, click here.

For tips on registering visit here https://scnps.org/education/certificate-in-native-plant-studies/certificate-registration-tips

Contact Sue Watts at 864-656-2836 or  watts9@clemson.edu  for more details.

Upcoming Certificate Courses

Courses appear below when dates are scheduled and registration is established.

Core Classes

Basic Botany
This introductory course develops a foundation of knowledge and a working vocabulary for all other courses by exploring the basics of plants - their classification, structure, functions, lifecycle, reproduction strategies, and communities through classroom readings hands-on activities. As part of the class materials, you will receive the following books: Brian Capon, Botany for Gardeners and James G. Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris, Plant Terminology: An Illustrated Guide. Basic botany is required for all other courses.

Basic Horticulture
Discover how and why native plants have the potential to transform traditional horticultural practices with Jon Fritz, owner of Bluestem Landscape Design. Subjects include what is native, the importance of soil, the basics of plant health, the methods of planting and maintaining native plants, and eco-friendly horticulture practices. Learn how to attract beneficial wildlife like birds, bees, and butterflies while balancing elements of design. Prerequisite: Basic Botany.

Tree Identification
Enter the forest to explore the world with Dan Whitten, former president of the Upstate Chapter of the SCNPS. Become familiar with our native trees, shrubs and woody vines by learning to recognize their bark, leaves, twigs, fruit, and form. Deepen your knowledge through the use of a dichotomous key and by learning to recognize plant communities. Participants will also learn how woody plants are useful as tools, medicines, and shelter for humans and other animals. As part of the class materials, you will receive Kirkman et al., Native Trees of the Southeast, and Ron Lance. Woody Plants of the Blue RidgePrerequisite: Basic Botany

Spring Herbaceous Plant Identification
In this field-identification course learn about the foliage and flowers of mostly herbaceous plants. Join Allison Kelly, Natural Heritage Trail Manager, to explore the many habitats along the Natural Heritage Trail. Learn how to use a key to help with plant identification. For certification, both spring and fall classes are required. You will receive the following books in the herbaceous class you take first: Porcher and Ranier, Wildflowers of South Carolina, Elpel, Botany in a Day.  Pre-requisite: Basic Botany

Natural Plant Communities
Join expert naturalist, Tim Lee, to build your knowledge base of major conceptual issues and areas of current research in plant ecology. Explore the biotic and abiotic factors that affect the distribution and abundance of plant species in South Carolina. Explore the SCBG's Natural Heritage Trail to discover the basic ecology of various South Carolina habitats.  Prerequisite: Basic Botany.

Sustainable Landscaping
Join instructor Rick Huffman, ASLA, Earth Design, SCNPS, to explore how to design with nature and how native plants are essential characters in functioning ecological landscapes. The course provides a holistic perspective of land ethic values that will frame how and why native plants work in our landscapes. The course will connect time, geology, soils, water, and plant communities to designed landscapes that work together with nature. Participants will learn how designing with nature begins by reviewing applications of native plants in parks, streetscapes, museums, and specifically residential landscapes that are beautiful and low maintenance. Importantly the wildlife values such as pollinators and invasive plants and alternatives will be covered. Lectures will be interactive with screen share. Prerequisite: Basic Botany.

Fall Herbaceous Plant Identification
In this field-identification course learn about the foliage and flowers of mostly herbaceous plants. Join Allison Kelly, Natural Heritage Trail Manager, to explore the many habitats along the Natural Heritage Trail. Learn how to use a key to help with plant identification. For certification, both spring and fall classes are required. You will receive the following books in the herbaceous class you take first: Porcher and Ranier, Wildflowers of South Carolina, Elpel, Botany in a Day.  Pre-requisite: Basic Botany

PAST ELECTIVES  

Introduction to Soils
Backyard Rain Gardens
Explore the Sandhills
Mountain Plant Communities
Evergreens
Coastal Hardwood Forests 
Native Plant Propagation
Plant communities of the Jocassee Gorges via Lake Jocassee
Ferns 
Wetland and Riparian Ecosystems
The Congaree Through a Botanist's Eye
Native Plants and Birds of the Beidler Forest
Vascular plants of the low country
Longleaf pine savanna
South Carolina Grasses
Making a plan to manage native plants
Nature journaling
Piedmont Plant Communities

 

Congratulations Graduates!

SCNP Certificate Graduates

 

Bill Altman

Bill Bardsley

Victoria Bergeson

Peggy Brock

Gail Brownlee

Nancy Bryant

Rachel Carey

Julie Ciezadlo

Dodie Clark

Carl Cole

Celie Dailey

Kathy Edwards

Sherry Edwards

Alice Fraser

Brian Grabbitan

Alice Guzick

Patty Hester

Asa Hill

Julie Hill

Joyce Holcombe

Liliana Koster

Beth Kunkel

Betsy Lewis

Kris Littman-Koon

Diane Long

Ray Long

Annette Malik

Louis Mathis

Bill McCullough

Robert Meaders

Anne Morris

Debbie Myers

Pamela Parrish

Diane Peterson

Gary Prideaux

Kitty Putnam

Miller Putnam

Gail Rahn

Betsy Russell

James Shaw

Eric Schaub

Kailan Sindelar

Merike Tamm

Susan Temple

Barbara Vanselow

Sherry Waldvogel

Mary White

Marigold Wilson

Mary White