Waccamaw Siouan Tribe Explores Green Swamp

Green Swamp Pitcher plants
Pitcher plants in Green Swamp. (Photo provided by the Green Swamp Nature Preserve)

The Waccamaw Siouan STEM Studio and other native tribe members will be walking the trails of their ancestors with a trip to Green Swamp. The land, originally occupied by the Waccamaw Siouan, is open to visitors year-round from sun-up to sun-down, and on Saturday, May 20, the tribe, STEM Studio, and the Nature Conservancy will be partnering together to bring a day of outdoor hiking and discovery to participants. 

Some of the earliest explorations of the area date back to 1735 when naturalist William Bratram was assisted by the Waccamaw Siouan in his efforts to catalogue everything Green Swamp had to offer. Luckily, attendees will not have to venture into unobtainable areas like the early settlers did. Instead, they will be taken on a virtual tour by a high-tech drone piloted by the conservancy. The STEM Studio will also be holding a scavenger hunt. 

The Green Swamp contains some of the country’s best examples of longleaf pine savannas. The open savannas have a diverse herb layer with many orchids and insectivorous plants which the area is famous for. Almost 13,000 acres of the preserve are made up of a dense evergreen shrub bog known as pocosin. It’s dominated by gall berry, titi, and sweet bay. 

It contains at least 14 different species of insectivorous plants, including extensive populations of Venus flytrap, sundew, butterworts and bladderworts, and four species of pitcher plant. The preserve is also home to many animals including the American alligator, Henslow’s and Bachman’s sparrows, and Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly. 

The Nature Conservancy’s many management activities at the Green Swamp include controlled burning and restoring pine plantations to longleaf pine savannas. 

The exploration day will begin at 9 a.m., and anyone is invited to attend the event. The directions to reach the preserve are as follows: 

From Wilmington, follow US 17 south to Supply. At the intersection of Highway 211 (there is a Hardees restaurant and Kangaroo gas station at this intersection), turn right and follow Highway 211 north for 5 miles. The parking area for the trailhead will be on the right. There is a small parking area sign just before the turn off. A kiosk at the trailhead gives you more information about the Green Swamp. 

If you have any questions about the trail day, you can email the STEM Studio at [email protected]. If you want to find out more about the tribe or the organization, visit https://waccamaw-siouan.org/.