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General news and features

New Progress column looks at plants of the Southeast

Water-shield,” Brasenia schreberi

By John Nelson, curator

A.C. Moore Herbarium, South Carolina

Frequently the leaves and stems of a plant will prove to be just as fascinating as its flowers. This is a plant like that, and it is a native, aquatic species.

Except for its leaves, the entire plant grows below the surface of water, most often in quiet lakes and millponds or sometimes creeks. In the Southeast, it is most commonly seen in ponds on the coastal plain and in the sandhills, but it also grows in the mountain lakes. This species is actually quite common in many places around the world now. You generally need to do some wading to get up-close and personal with it, unless you have a canoe or kayak.

The leaf blades, dark green or sometimes purplish, are shaped like little footballs with rounded ends. Each blade is attached to a very long leaf stalk at its center, rather than at its edge, and botanists say that the leaf is thus “peltate,” in architecture something like an umbrella with its handle. What is more interesting is that the lower surfaces of the leaves, and for that matter, all the submersed parts of the plant, are thickly coated with a crystal-clear, mucilaginous jelly. Because of this, it is something of a challenge to handle the plants: they are really quite slippery. This mucilage on the stems and leaves may serve some purpose, but we don’t exactly understand what it might be.

Five things you didn't know about Casual Classics Concert Series


Above, Montana Skies, who will launch this season of the Casual Classics Concert Series in Jasper. Learn more about Montana Skies at

Next Monday, Sept. 26 the Classic Concert Series is kicking off its sixth, and perhaps most powerful season with the unique cello/guitar duo Montana Skies (pictured to the left). 
According to concert manager Suzanne Shull, there is now a growing interest in the series. Shull says an average crowd at the New Lebanon Presbyterian Church on Bent Tree Drive falls between 100 and 150, and the patron-base for the series has widened significantly.


Hiking trails on Burnt Mountain open

Above, members of the Mountain Stewards trail crew at a bridge they constructed in the Burnt Mountain Preserve. The Stewards have recently completed three new hiking trails on the county-owned property.


The public is invited to attend the grand opening celebration for three new hiking trails at the Burnt Mountain Preserve, all recently completed by the Mountain Stewards.

Next Friday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. the county will hold its grand opening celebration at the trailhead kiosk, located on the right side of Hwy 136 East headed toward the Dawson County line. The kiosk is located just before the first overlook.

Redistricting divides Pickens in Ga. Senate and Congress



Pickens County will be split among two districts in the state senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives under re-apportionment maps set for approval this week by the state legislature.

The state senate will vote on the re-drawn maps this week. The house has already voted approval. The re-apportionment maps made significant changes to district lines at all levels across the state to accommodate the growing Georgia population.

State Senator Steve Gooch  and State Rep. Rick Jasperse who represent Pickens County both said they doubted much will change from the proposed maps presented last week with only some “minor tweaking” still in discussion this week.

Homeschool band needs instruments

If you have a band instrument collecting dust or in the back of a closet, please consider donating it to North Georgia Homeschool Band.

Your donation could help to provide a music education for a young student.North Georgia Homeschool Band meets every Friday afternoon at Reinhardt University's Falany Performing Arts Center.For donations or more information contact Maggie Shaw at 770-313-0061 or go to