2017 Native Plant of the Year Award

Photographer Ginny Price

Monarda didyma or commonly known as Bee Balm or Oswego Tea, is the Garden Club of South Carolina’s 2017 SC Native Plant of the Year. The Greenville Garden Club nominated this native for the following reasons:

  • Attracts beneficial pollinators such as birds, butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Grows well in our clay, rocky, sandy or loam soils while tolerating partial shade or full sun.
  • Attractive old-fashioned large flowers on sturdy stems, dramatic dark bracts, fragrant foliage.
  • Also classed as an herb and leaves may be used to make fragrant tea.
  • Impressive and breathtaking when planted in mass in a bed and add panoramic splendor to all gardens.
  • Excellent in floral arrangements.
  • Plantings yield countless photographic opportunities because of their beauty.

BING Photograph


2017 Native Plant of the Year Honorable Mention

Photographer Joyce Wichmann

Callicarpa americana or commonly known as Beautyberry, is the Garden Club of South Carolina’s Honorable Mention for 2017 SC Native Plant of the Year. The Riverland Terrace Garden Club of Charleston nominated this native.

Boasting a wide pH range, Beautyberry does well in just about any type of soil be it sandy or moist, loamy or shallow. It is even tolerant to fire. Beautyberry is available in local nurseries, garden centers, and online. It is a perfect pass-along plant as it is easily propagated.

Native American tribes used the leaves, branches, and berries to treat a variety of health issues. In the early 1900’s, farmers crushed the leaves and put them under their horses’ saddles for an effective mosquito repellant. The farmers found that the crushed leaves worked to repel mosquitoes and other biting bugs.

The South Carolina State Animal, the Whitetail Deer, which many times is considered a pest, consume the fruit in the fall after leaf drop and the leaves in the summer provide nourishment when other food sources are not available.

More than 40 species of songbirds rely on this beauty for a significant food source. One species is the Eastern Towhee which can be found in every area of the state year-round.

Outside the urban landscape, Beautyberry is also a food source for cattle who graze on the bare twigs in winter and on the leaves and twigs in summer. Opossum, squirrels, foxes, and armadillos also rely on this plant for food.

(Riverland Terrace Garden Club has cited from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Fact Sheet online)