Henry William Ravenel (1814-1887)

Introduction | Introduction to the Botanical Collection | Applied Botany: Some Cultivated Plants | Ravenel in the South Caroliniana Library | Type Specimens in the Ravenel Collection | Some Rare Plants | Some Noteworthy Plants | A New Species of a Fresh-Water Alga | Weedy Plants from South Carolina | Specimens from Some of Ravenel's Southern Colleagues | Specimens from Some of Ravenel's Northern Colleagues | Plants Named After Ravenel | References

Weedy Plants from South Carolina

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triadica sebiferaAn 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.

unknownA very interesting weed from the low-country
near old buildings
(Hanover House)
Solanum sodomeum
Current name: not definite.

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.


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