Rare Plants in South Carolina

South Carolina has more than 3,800 species of native and naturalized plants, according to Patrick Milligan of the South Carolina Native Plant Society. A native plant grows in the wild without human care, while a naturalized plant was once cultivated by humans, but now grows in the wild. Of those 3,800 species, 707 are rare or in short supply and 78 are considered endangered species that are at risk of becoming extinct.


Sundews, sticky flypaper plants, are found mostly in eastern and southeastern South Carolina, although a few are in the northwest corner. They typically grow in moist soil and have leaves with long tentacles. These rare plants are known for their strange way of capturing insects by trapping them in their leaf folds with bristle-like hairs which contain digestive enzymes. When an insect lands on a leaf, it becomes trapped and the entire leaf wraps around it. The digestion process is slow and can even take hours to complete. The insect's outer skeleton, which isn't digested, is blown away as a leaf unfolds.

Confederate Daisy

The Confederate daisy is a rare flower that blooms in late summer. The Greenville-Spartanburg Airport is the only known area where there's a population of this federally endangered plant, according to the University of South Carolina Upstate website. This plant has yellow flowers and grows in shallow soil. It can also be found growing on granite outcrops.

Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf

The Dwarf-flowered heartleaf is a spicy-smelling evergreen plant that's found along streams and north-facing slopes, besides swampy areas and ravines. This perennial grows in acidic sandy soils and has heart-shaped leaves that smell like ginger when they're crushed. It produces small maroon flowers from late January to May and is mostly found in the Spartanburg area. Listed as a "threatened" plant, Dwarf-flowered heartleaves only grow in three South Carolina counties, as well as six North Carolina counties. A threatened plant is one that is in foreseeable danger of becoming extinct, while an endangered plant is one in eminent danger of being eliminated.

Bunched Arrowhead

Bunched arrowhead is a small plant that grows in saturated soils in upstate South Carolina, as well as southwest North Carolina. One of the rarest plants of the South Carolina Piedmont, the bunched arrowhead grows around Traveler's Rest, S.C. and East Rock, N.C. These are the only parts of the world where this plant grows. Listed as a threatened species, this plant has broad, emergent leaves and white flowers that start blooming in mid-May and continue through July.

Keywords: rare south carolina plants, uncommon south carolina plants, threatened south carolina plants

About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.