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An early specimen of “Popcorn tree”
Styllingia sebifera L.
introduced - Near Charleston S.C.
Script beneath label: "S.C. June near Charleston"
Current name: Triadica sebifera (L.) Small; "Popcorn tree," "Tallow tree."
This is a weedy, Asiatic species that has become popular for its decorative, dried branches, when in fruit. Ravenel refers to this plant as "thoroughly naturalized around Charleston and for 40-50 miles distant" in 1876. The trees remain very common along our coast, and are frequently planted as far inland as Columbia. However, this has proven to be a troublesome exotic, and has seriously invaded a number of coastal ecosystems. It sprouts vigorously in response to disturbances, especially hurricanes.
Probably introduced species, perhaps cultivated, but more likely a pest. Hanover House refers to the ancestral home of Ravenel's great-grandfather, originally located in Berkeley County, then transported to Clemson University (prior to the inundation of Lake Moultrie), now on the grounds at the South Carolina Botanical Garden. Solanum is a large genus in the tomato family (Solanaceae), perhaps best known locally known as the native S. caroliniense, which is a fairly benign (although somewhat toxic) weed. Solanum sodomeumwas named in 1753 by Linnaeus, and remains a valid species. However, this specimen is likely a different taxon. Other species of Solanum, especially (and recently) S. viarum, or “tropical soda-apple”, have been implicated as serious agricultural weeds in the Southeast.