In the narrow strip along the South Carolina coast is the subtropical growth in which are found such plants as the large palmetto, several dwarf palmettos, the American olive, the evergreen Carolina laurel cherry, several species of yucca, the evergreen holly, and the groundsel bush. Characteristic grasses along the coast are panicum, water millet, and sea oats.
Just behind this coastal strip are low sandy plains or damp flat woodlands, where magnificent live oaks, the nearly evergreen laurel and white oaks, great magnolias, hickories, gums, and pines make up the most conspicuous arboreal vegetation. In the open pine flats, and near the inlets, the dwarf white honeysuckle perfumes the air in April and May, and covers thousands of acres with snowy sheets of blossom. From May to July the sweet bay is almost as fragrant. Numerous species of pitcher plants and several other insectivorous genera are found in open flats and shore areas. From Murrell's Inlet northward grows the rare Venus's flytrap. The striking bald cypress is prevalent in swamps, both on the coast and farther inland; while the smaller pond cypress and the pond pine are found in savannahs and other poorly drained areas. On the more elevated sandy places, under the pines and oaks, are abundant dogwood, sparkleberry, American olive, and trailing arbutus. The long gray Spanish moss, so impressive to visitors, is not a moss at all, but a flowering aerial plant belonging to the pineapple family. The dense vegetation of the Low Country is prevailingly evergreen, largely due to the tangled growth of one or more species of smilax, yellow jessamine, gallberry, red bay, sweet bay, and loblolly bay. Conspicuous in the swamps are red-fruited haws, tall cottonwoods, and tupelo gums.
The Sand Hills have their own distinctive plant life, dominated by the longleaf pine, under which are such scrub growths as turkey oak, upland willow oak, and blackjack. Spring flowers are abundant and beautiful, and here and there is found one of the loveliest little plants in the State--the pyxie, also known as flowering moss and pine barren beauty.
Between the Sand Hills and the mountains, the Up Country forests contain about the same trees and flowers that are found in the Southeast generally. The magnificent white oaks and beeches attract universal admiration. Redbud, dogwood, and river plum are among the most conspicuous of the smaller flowering trees. Crabgrass and Bermuda grass are serious pests in cultivated fields, but make excellent summer pasturage.
Among the most admired flora of the Carolina mountains are the rhododendrons (three species), azaleas, and kalmias. In their spring glory the kalmias make a spectacular display, descending along the bluffs of rivers to within a few miles of the coast, as on Springwood plantation near Georgetown. At Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville, on the lower edge of the Sand Hills and scarcely 100 feet above sea level, is a magnificent display of kalmias in their native habitat. The Carolina hemlock occurs sparingly in the South Carolina mountains.