The Exceedingly Rare Oconee Bell is Currently Blooming in South Carolina
A rare wildflower is currently in bloom, but you'll have to act fast if you want to experience it in nature in person. This endangered perennial only blooms for a few more weeks.
The Oconee Bell, first discovered in the Southern Appalachians by a French botanist in 1788, has an exceptionally limited habitat. Colonies can be found in North Carolina and Georgia, but 90% of its total population can be found in Upstate South Carolina, along the steep banks of the streams that feed Lake Jocassee.
It's a delicate bell-shaped flower with white petals, dark green leaves, and a red stem. Sadly, it only blooms from mid-March to early-April.
"The Oconee Bell is a harbinger of spring," says Dan Whitten, a board member of nature nonprofit, Friends of Jocassee, told the Greenville Journal. "It's blooming when the woods still look like winter before the leaves have come out."
The best place to catch a glimpse of this elusive flower is on the one-mile Oconee Bells Nature Trail in Devils Fork State Park in Oconee County, South Carolina. The trail follows a creek which is lined by Oconee Bell wildflowers.
Keep in mind that peak blooming season will be over for these pretty plants in the next week or two, so make your travel plans now!