The Relict Flora of Ice Ponds in South Carolina


Steven R. Hill

Additional Authors:


March – 1999


Ice Ponds, South Carolina, Relict Flora, Carex barrattii, Carex buxbaumii, Sanguisorba canadensis, Scirpus cespitosus

During botanical surveys in the Table Rock Reservoir watershed in Pickens and Greenville Counties, South Carolina (1992-93), observations were made on a unique vegetation community located at the base of vertical north-facing cliffs of Table Rock. Sheets of ice and rock detach from the cliffs and fall up to 305 m (1,000 ft) and have created small, narrow ponds with sand terraces above boulder fields. This unusual habitat never receives direct sunlight, is unobstructed by woody vegetation, and is continuously cool and wet. Found at approximately 549 m (1,800 ft), a moderately high elevation for the state, the community and habitat characteristics of the ice ponds show affinities to communities of much higher elevations in North Carolina and of much higher latitudes. Four of the fifty-three species found in the vicinity of the ice ponds are considered here to be Pleistocene relicts: Carex barrattii, Carex buxbaumii, Sanguisorba canadensis, and Scirpus cespitosus.