The rocky shoals spider lilies are blooming in South Carolina.
According to the state Department of Parks and Recreation, Landsford Canal State Park along the Catawba River is home to the largest population of spider lilies in the world. They also can be seen on the Broad River in Columbia.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman David Lucas says visitors from around the country come to South Carolina to see the flowers bloom, particularly at Landsford Canal.
“This one is particularly large and when they’re all blooming at one time,” he said. “It just sort of turns that whole section of the river white with these beautiful long, sort of green stem things with white flowers.”
Although the annual Lilyfest at the park was May 20, the peak bloom season lasts through June. Click here for a Lily Watch Update.
“The South Carolin Parks Recreation and Tourism, they actually keep up a Lily Watch section of the web site for Landsford Canal State Park so you can go and check week by week as to how the lily blooms are doing,” Lucas said.
Although the flowers can be seen from the riverbanks, people in kayaks and other watercraft can get a closer look.
Currently, high water along the rivers may prevent viewing from the water. As of the May 25 update:
The recent rains in the North Carolina mountains are still being managed downstream. At this time, the river is near 12,000 cfs (6-7 times higher and faster than normal). Duke Energy has confirmed that they will be running high water through Memorial Day and potentially beyond. The water is unsafe for recreational paddling and most of the lilies will be under water until the flow recedes. We will post further updates as we receive them. Please be safe around the river.
Additional rainfall since last week continues to make viewing from the river hazardous.
Once the weather clears, state park officials have made it easier for kayakers and canoeists to put into the river with a new access ramp.
“Now they have this circular turnout, just like you would a regular boat ramp where you can pull your vehicle down and unload your boats and things and then go back and park,” Lucas said. “So that makes it a lot easier and nicer for people that are accessing (the river). There’s giant steps that had been built and a little ramp which makes it really nice and safe and easy to get in and out of your boat and in the water.”
The flowers also can be seen in the Broad River from the Columbia Canal and Riverfont Park. The City of Columbia offers tours viewing the flowers through May. Click here for more information. Viewing trips may be booked through commercial kayak companies and outfitters.
Lucas writes a travel blog of the SCDNR.