Visiting Laurel Hill Preserve

The Southern Piedmont Chapter’s recent visit to Laurel Hill Preserve was a fabulous walk amongst paths carpeted with Partridge Berry and Club Moss under a canopy of Bigleaf Magnolia Magnolia macrophylla.

JD mag mac
Bigleaf Magnolia canopy, photo by Jennifer Daggy

While we never made it to the biggest Bigleaf Magnolia on the site (shown below in a tree hug by Larry Mellichamp), our group enjoyed wandering in the forest under those massive leaves. Larry Magnolia macrophylla Best IMG_20170907_180951570

Partridge Berry Mitchella repens

Our hike was lead by Laurel Hill Farm owner, Amy Nason, and former NCNPS President, Dr. Larry Mellichamp. As Dr. M pointed out, this is such an important conservation site because Bigleaf Magnolia is only found in 5 counties between Statesville and York in the Carolinas. It’s always fun to learn botany factoids from Dr. M, for instance…Bigleaf Magnolia is distinctive because the leaves have ears, and is one of only 3 Magnolia with that distinctive trait. The other 2 are M. fraseri (found only in the mountains, bright red fruit cone) and M. ashei (found in a limited range in Florida, but grows well in the Piedmont, blooms at a young age).

On our way down to the swinging bridge over Long Creek, we were fortunate to happen upon a wooly aphid dance on a Beech Tree branch. The rich woods have benefited from the summer rains and our group spotted Beech Drops, Collinsonia, Hearts-a-Burstin’, Galax, Indian Ghost Pipe, and Sourwood.

Bigleaf Magnolia cone

Laurel Hill is a working farm in Gaston County with goats, chickens and pigs. Amy milks the goats daily and if you’re interested in some of her farm products such as goat milk and cheese or eggs, contact her to join her farm email list at Amy and her family encourage visitors and are planning an invasive work day in September.  There are several study sites on the property from area university graduate students looking at snail and mushroom populations.

IMG_5648Laurel Hill Preserve was put into the Catawba Lands Conservancy by Frank Ewing, the former owner, and we were fortunate to be joined on this hike by his daughter Robin Ewing. During their tenure the property was primarily used as a plant nursery. Since we just happened to be there on Hurricane Irma eve, Robin commented that Hurricane Hugo, in 1989 changed the landscape due to massive amounts of tree fall and possibly opened the canopy to a greater population of Bigleaf Magnolia with huge number of fallen trees leading to more light openings.



Discoveries in the Darkness: A Look into the Local Diversity of Moths and the Connections to our Natural Communities and Native Flora

Lenny Lampel, Natural Resources Coordinator/Supervisor with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s Division of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources will speak at the February 12 Southern Piedmont Chapter meeting about the nighttime world of moths. Many people are not aware that moths are just as important pollinators as butterflies and bees, and we may even find out that they are more important! Find out more about the plants moths love and need.

Date: Sunday, February 12
Time: 2:00-4:00

Reedy Creek Nature Center
2900 Rocky River Rd. Charlotte, NC 28215


Join NCNPS Today!

At only $25 per year for individual memberships, NCNPS is one of the most affordable things you can do to support environmental programs. One of the benefits of membership is invitation to members only hikes and outings such as:

  • Southern Piedmont Chapter April 9 Trillium walk. Location to follow. Tentative meeting time 2:00 PM Open to members only.
  • State Society Spring Trip to Boone May 5-7. Friday, Saturday and Sunday hiking opportunities to see spring wildflowers at the peak of their bloom. Speakers, plant auction and social. Details to follow in next newsletter. Open to members only.
  • Southern Piedmont Chapter May 14 meeting…local Pink Lady Slipper site plus additional wildflower visit. Open to members only.
  • June 3-State picnic-ARC Building at Hagan Stone Park Pleasant Garden, NC—best native plant auction, plus many affordable plants on the $5 table. Best place to find rare and unusual native plants to expand your garden.

In addition you will receive the quarterly newsletter with excellent native plant articles written by NCNPS members. Join at

The Dr. Mellichamp Presidential challenge!

Last year, at the state picnic in June, our president, Dr. M challenged all of us to get involved…and the Southern Piedmont Chapter needs you! Spring is busy season for members as communities across the Piedmont host festivals and events and invite NCNPS to participate. Please help us staff these booths. To sign up email ncnpsspchapter@gmail.comto let us know when you help. Events include:

  • MCSWCD Tree seedling distribution, 9-12 Noon, Feb. 25, Charlotte, Hal Marshall Center
  • Reedy Creek NC Arbor Day celebration , March 18, 2-5:30 PM
  • Earth Day, numerous community events and festivals, April 22 and 29-Charlotte, Davidson, Kings Mountain, Matthews, Stowe Botanical Garden, Statesville, Monroe

    Bernice Turnipseed and friend at Earth Day Booth in Matthews 2016

January meeting moved to January 15 due to weather

Sunday, January 8 Meeting Cancelled due to weather !
We hope you can join us NEXT Sunday, January 15, 2 PM at Reedy Creek Nature Center to hear Angel Hjarding of Butterfly Highway fame! If you feel inspired after playing in the snow while you are warming up inside, we challenge you to post your favorite butterfly photos on our Facebook page, or in the comments below for a “virtual Butterfly Highway.” We hope to see you all next weekend.

Sunday Jan. 8, 2017 – The Butterfly Highway

NCNPS-Southern Piedmont Chapter January Meeting

Angel Hjarding will share the Butterfly Highway creation story, and explore how NCNPS members can become more involved in our local communities. Angel is in the process of completing her doctoral degree in Geography from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. As a part of her doctoral research, she conceptualized the Butterfly Highway as a way to bring beautification to underserved urban neighborhoods and create opportunities for residents to reconnect with nature. Since joining NCWF, the Butterfly Highway has grown from 50 residential gardens to over 1,300 gardens across NC. To learn more about the many projects Butterfly Highway has completed this year visit the Butterfly Highway page on the NCWF website or follow The Butterfly Highway on Facebook.


Angel will have Butterfly Highway custom seed mix packets for sale, $5.00 each. You can learn more about the seeds in these packets at the NC Wildlife Federation website.


Date: Sunday, January 8

Time: 2:00-4:00

Location: Reedy Creek Nature Center,2900 Rocky River Rd. Charlotte, NC 28215


News and Upcoming events:

If you are looking for any recent copies of the Bird Friendly Native Plant of the Month flyer, they are all listed in our blog to give you great ideas while you sit inside this winter dreaming of where to put your shovel in your garden next spring! It’s too early to plant, but not too early to plan!!

Mecklenburg County Soil and Water Conservation District Tree and Seedling Sale 2017

Leslie Vanden Herick and her team at MCSWCD always have a great selection of native trees and shrubs to offer at really affordable prices. And if you pre-order you can skip the line and pick them up Friday, Feb. 24. More details and order forms are on our new Southern Piedmont Chapter blog. Or you can go directly to the MCSWCD to find the form.

Volunteer Opportunties in 2017!

NCNPS-Southern Piedmont Chapter is enthusiastically making plans to engage with our communities in 2017 and we need you! Our biggest volunteer need is Earth Day, April 22, when our chapter participates in numerous festivals and events throughout the region. Please mark your calendars now and plan to help us out to staff a table or booth. Materials are provided, and our community loves to talk about NC native plants!

Our first local event is staffing a table at the MCSWCD Tree Seedling Distribution on Saturday, Feb. 25, 9-12 Noon  at the Hal Marshall Center in uptown Charlotte. We need 2-3 people to cover half shifts. If you have time to volunteer please email

UNCC Certificate in Native Plant Studies

Don’t miss this opportunity to enroll in Botany for Gardeners and Naturalists, Jan. 28-29, the introductory course and pre-requisite for many of the other courses throughout the year. Visit the UNCC Botanical Gardens website for more details and to sign up online. You may know the instructor….our very own NCNPS President, Dr. Larry Mellichamp!