Garden, plant society announce ‘Certificate in Native Plant Studies’

CLEMSON — The South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG) and the South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS) recently announced a Certificate in Native Plant Studies program that will begin this fall. Registration is open now.

Based on South Carolina’s rich botanical heritage, and through hands-on field-based classes, students learn about native plants and their vast diversity, plant communities and the habitats that define South Carolina from the mountains to the sea.

Participants also learn about the significant benefits of native plants in ensuring biodiversity, and improving soil, water and air quality, as well as discover the importance of sustainable and appropriate development, become aware of conservation issues facing native plants and plant communities, and become educated environmental stewards.

In elective courses, students will also have the opportunity to visit and learn more about the various ecosystems in South Carolina.

The certificate program is composed of 7 core classes plus 4 electives. Students are not required to pursue a Certificate in order to enroll. All classes are taught by qualified professionals. For more information and to download a brochure, visit

Class size is limited. To register, go to

This is the only program of its kind in South Carolina. Similar programs are offered across the country, the nearest ones being in Charlotte, N.C. (UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens in partnership with the N.C. Native Plant Society and the Habitat and Wildlife Keepers); Athens, Ga. (State Botanical Garden of Georgia); and Chapel Hill, N.C. (N.C. Botanical Garden).

Unless otherwise indicated, courses will take place at the South Carolina Botanical Garden, 150 Discovery Lane, Clemson, SC 29634. This fall’s offerings include:


Basic Botany is a prerequisite for all other courses and is offered twice this fall:

Saturday, August 29, and Wednesday, September 9

Join Jeff Beacham, South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS) President, in this introductory botany course, and the inaugural class in the Certificate of Native Plants. In this day-long class, develop a foundation of knowledge and a working vocabulary for all other courses in the Certificate of Native Plants. Though classroom lectures and fun hands-on activities explore the basics of plants – their classification, structure, functions, lifecycles, and reproductive strategies. Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Saturday, September 19

In this field identification course you learn about the foliage and flowers of primarily herbaceous plants, although some shrubs will surely sneak in. Join Patrick McMillan as you explore the many habitats along the Natural Heritage Trail. Learn how to use a key to aid plant identification. For certification, both spring and fall classes are required. Prerequisite: Basic Botany. Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Saturday, September 26

Enter the forest to explore the giants of the plant world with Dan Whitten, President of the Upstate Chapter of the SCNPS. Become familiar with our native trees, shrubs and woody vines by learning to recognize their bark, leaves, twigs, fruit and form. Deepen your knowledge through the use of a dichotomous key and by learning to recognize plant communities. Participants will also learn how woody plants are useful as tools, medicines, shelter, and as forage for humans and other animals. Prerequisite: Basic Botany. Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.



Saturday, October 24

Join Garden Director, Patrick McMillan, and build your knowledge base of major conceptual issues and areas of current research in plant ecology. Explore the biotic and abiotic factors that affect the distribution and abundance of plant species in South Carolina. Explore the SCBG’s Natural Heritage Trail to discover the basic ecology of diverse South Carolina habitats. Prerequisite: Basic Botany. Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.




Saturday, November 14

Native plants are the key to developing a sustainable landscape, and an important way to conserve nature resources. A sustainable landscape is in balance with the local climate, soil, plants and wildlife. Native plants enable you to potentially minimize the resource inputs into your garden, such as fertilizer, pesticides, gasoline, time and water. In this class join Rick Huffman, founder of the SC Native Plant Society, to put it all together: planning and design, site and plant selection, soil conditions, irrigation and water efficiency, and maintenance. Prerequisite: Basic Botany. Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Future courses include: Basic Horticulture, Pests & Disease, Invasives & Exotics, Propagation of Native Plants, Native Grasses, Rain Gardens, Soil Basics, Native Plant Container Gardens, Shoreline Buffers, Ferns and Fern Allies, Coastal Plain Ecology, Sandhills Ecology, Mountain Ecology, and Piedmont Ecology.

The South Carolina Native Plant Society is a non-profit organization committed to the preservation and protection of native plant communities in South Carolina. Meetings of the Upstate Chapter alternate between Spartanburg, Greenville, and Pickens counties.

The South Carolina Botanical Garden is located on the campus of Clemson University. Designated the State’s botanical garden in 1992, the Garden encompasses 295 acres of natural and manicured landscapes within the South Carolina Piedmont ecosystem. Together with a nationally recognized nature-based sculpture collection, distinguished education and outreach programs, and the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, the SCBG is a premier site for experiencing nature and culture.