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What native plants are blooming this week?

Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia)

Oconee Bells is one of North Carolina's rarest plants. It is found in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Oconee bells is considered endangered and may not be collected in the wild.

It inhabits shady conditions along stream banks, often where a disturbance has occurred. It spreads by short runners to cover an area and may have a toxic effect on surrounding vegetation.

Single 1-inch white to pinkish blooms occur in early spring. Bees serve as the primary pollinators of Oconee bells. The shiny leaves are oval to roundish in shape on long stems with wavy toothed margins and a heart-shaped base. The leaves turn a bronze red in the fall.

In cultivation, this plant is used as a ground cover in a shade garden or a woodland setting. It may be slow to get established. It prefers partial shade and sandy or clay loams rich in humus. Once established it needs little care and provides year-round interest with the fall color change that lasts all winter.

Source - NC State Extension, Vascular Plants of NC

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