Southern Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

Yellow Fringed Orchid.
Yellow Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris). Photo by Richard Porcher.

Bearded Grass-pink.
Bearded Grass-pink (Calopogon barbatus). Photo by Richard Porcher.

Awendaw Savanna.
Awendaw Savanna. Photo by Richard Porcher.

Awendaw Savanna

Forest: Francis Marion National Forest

District: Francis Marion National Forest

Description: Awendaw is a high quality example of a fire-maintained, wetland longleaf pine savanna. These savannas are extremely uncommon globally and are composed of a very open canopy of longleaf pine, sometimes mixed with pond pine or pond cypress, and a thick and diverse herb layer. Essentially, savannas are tree-herb communities. Awendaw savanna itself holds no fewer than 329 species of plants and can contain over 100 of these species on a single 20 m. X 50 m. parcel. Most notable are the abundance of orchids and carnivorous plants. This makes the natural community at Awendaw, among the most diverse recorded!! The best time to visit Awendaw is May, when many orchids and pitcher plants are blooming, though you never know what you might find throughout the summer, and into fall.

The process critical to this high diversity of herbaceous plants is prescribed fire, on a 2-3 year rotation. Management of the Awendaw savanna with frequent prescribed fire, is particularly challenging due to its’ location in proximity to a busy state highway.

Safety First: Access to Awendaw Savanna is good. Awendaw Savanna is “wet” so waterproof boots and insect repellant are recommended. Temperature on the coastal plain of South Carolina can get quite warm in summer, so bring plenty of water and wear loose-fitting clothing. Beware of stepping into ruts too, left by decomposed tree stumps. Though not likely, you might even see a snake or two!

Directions: To reach Awendaw Savanna, take SC Hwy.17 between Georgetown and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Near Awendaw, look for FS 225 north of Hwy.17. Awendaw Savanna is east of FS 225, 0.5 miles north of Hwy.17. Park on the FS 225 roadside.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Francis Marion National Forest.

Closest Town: Awendaw, South Carolina.