New county record – Georgia Holly found in Polk County

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013

During a joint native plant rescue performed by the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Tryon Garden Club (TGC) at Pearson’s Falls this spring (in preparation for the “Green Restrooms”), PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection Pam Torlina discovered a new species of plant for Polk County.

Georgia Holly (Ilex longipes) was found growing at Pearson’s Falls. Prior to this sighting no one had ever identified (or vouchered) this specimen in the county before. Torlina took a couple of cuttings and preserved them to voucher the specimens. Just recently, the specimens were verified by botanist David Campbell.

Prior to March 31, 2013, Georgia Holly had never been reported as growing in the county. The shrub/small tree is native to the Carolinas and Georgia but uncommon, even rare in the Carolinas.

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The plant has been found and collected from nearby counties, such as Rutherford County, N.C. and Cherokee County, S.C., and now specimens from Polk County are on their way to Charlotte to be filed in the database of the UNCC Herbarium housed at the Dr. James F. Matthews Center for Biodiversity Studies.

Campbell said, “This is proof that there is much to be discovered in Polk County. It is very interesting botanically.”

Pearson’s Falls, a nature preserve, has been owned and operated by the TGC since 1931. TGC is the fourth oldest garden club in North Carolina and celebrated its 85th anniversary this year. Members of the 501(c)(3) organization are active in preserving, protecting, and treasuring Pearson Falls, contributing to the beautification of Tryon, educating members and the community and collaborating with others, fulfilling the organization’s mission to foster awareness and appreciation of the natural world.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve the area’s natural resources (PAC’s mission). PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements), which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.) and potentially obtain significant federal, state and local tax benefits.

PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and their goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.

PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

– article submitted by Pam Torlina