South Carolina is rich with native plants. Five major ecosystems exist in this Atlantic coastal state: mountainous areas; the piedmont, fall-line sandhills; coastal plain; and maritime strand. Many native plants grow in each of these regions, from ferns to large trees, such as maples, elders, buckeyes, hickories, ashes and beeches. Wildflowers are common and include geranium species, lilies, irises, lupines and others.
Known botanically as Itea virginica, this native shrub grows in rocky, mountainous areas of South Carolina near streams. Although it bears the same common name as the weeping willow tree, the Virginia willow belongs to a different plant family and it grows to only 6 feet in height. It has many stems containing leaves that are up to 4 inches long. In fall, it blooms with long-lasting, fragrant yellow, orange and red flowers that can grow as long as 6 inches.
The Senecio tomentosus is a dominant species in the springtime in the Piedmont area of South Carolina. This ecosystem consists of many granitic flatrocks, which have a smooth surface. Depressions in the rocks that have just a small amount of soil allow plants such as the ragwort to grow. This ragwort blooms with small yellow daisy-like flowers in April.
Growing in the fall-line sandhills of South Carolina, the sand myrtle is scientifically known as Leiophyllum buxifolium. This plant is a small evergreen shrub that reaches 3 feet in height and spreads up to 5 feet. It blooms in May with a showy display of ¼-inch wide white flowers with five petals and 10 stamens, which protrude outward from the flower's center. In winter, the foliage turns bronze colored. Although you can propagate it from stem cuttings and seeds, the University of Connecticut reports that this plant is difficult to establish.
Several ecosystems exist within the coastal plain region of South Carolina. One of these areas is the freshwater marsh community, which is made up of wetlands that support herbaceous plants that grow in partially submersed conditions. One of the most conspicuous wildflowers in this environment is the Cardinal flower, which is a member of the Lobelia genus and has a botanical name of Lobelia cardinalis. It grows to 4 feet tall and spreads 2 feet. The cardinal flower blooms with showy red flowers in fall, attracting hummingbirds and other wildlife, such as butterflies.
Growing in the maritime strand ecosystem of South Carolina, along beaches and on sand dunes, the trailing bluet (Houstonia procumbens) is one of the few herbaceous wildflowers that grows in this environment. Because of a widespread dense canopy consisting of live oaks, bull bay trees and loblolly pines, wildflowers such as the trailing bluet occur mainly in more open areas. It has small white flowers with four petals that bloom all summer, according to the University of Florida, where it also occurs.