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Shortia galacifolia Torrey & A. Gray. Southern Shortia, Oconee Bells. Phen: Mar-Apr; Jul-Aug. Hab: On moist slopes, creekbanks, and rock outcrops in humid escarpment gorges with high rainfall, generally in deep shade under Rhododendron maximum and R. minus, at elevations (in NC) of 350-650m. Dist: This species occurs in Transylvania and Jackson counties, NC, Oconee and Pickens counties, SC, and Rabun County, GA, where it occurs in the remarkable escarpment gorges region, at elevations from 200-650m (formerly at lower elevations, now submerged under Lake Jocassee).

Origin/Endemic status: Endemic

Other Comments: Most of the population of this species, including the type locality, was destroyed in the early 1960's by the construction of Lake Jocassee (Zahner & Jones 1983). In the gorge tributaries of the Eastatoe, Toxaway, Horsepasture, and Thompson rivers, Shortia can sometimes form a dense groundcover covering acres. Various outlying locations, such as in NC (Swain and Macon counties), VA (Amherst County), and TN (Blount, Monroe, and McMinn counties) are not considered native, and are adventive or the result of persistence after cultivation. A recently discovered population in DeKalb County, AL may represent a natural occurrence and needs additional investigation of its nativity (Barger et al. 2012); for the moment it has been mapped as questionably native/alien in AL. The species is prized by gardeners, and survives well outside its natural range.

Synonymy: = K4, Gaddy et al (2019); = Shortia galacifolia Torr. & A.Gray var. galacifolia – FNA8, K1, K3, NE, Davies (1952); < Sherwoodia galacifolia (Torr. & A.Gray) House – S; < Shortia galacifolia Torr. & A.Gray – C, G, RAB, W, Hatley (1977), Scott & Day (1983)

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image of plant© Will Stuart | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Scott Ward | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Bruce A. Sorrie | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Bruce A. Sorrie | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Scott Ward | Original Image ⭷