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South Carolina Earth Symbols

South Carolina Earth Symbols

South Carolina’s state gem is amethyst, a variety of quartz. Blue granite was adopted as South Carolina’s state stone.

Fossil ˆ

South Carolina State FossilSouth Carolina shares its state fossil with Washington State. (Columbian mammoth skeleton: By WolfmanSF – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0link.)

The capital of South Carolina is Columbia. Does that explain why the Columbian mammoth was designated the state fossil? Slaves discovered a Columbian mammoth tooth on a South Carolina plantation in 1725.

The animal’s scientific name, Mammuthus jeffersoni, commemorates pResident Thomas Jefferson, who was a slave owner himself. In fact, the Columbian mammoth is sometimes called the Jefferson mammoth.

Soil ˆ

South Carolina State Soil

South Carolina’s unofficial state soil is confusing, partly because there is little available information about it online. Some sources say South Carolina has no official soil, while others variously list its state soil as Bohicket or Lynchburg.

It turns out that Bohicket is the state soil, though it apparently hasn’t been officially adopted. The confusion arose because Lynchburg soil was used in a Smithsonian exhibition after soil scientists were unable to get a monolith of the Bohicket soil.

The Bohicket series consists of very poorly drained, very slowly permeable soils that formed in marine sediments in tidal marshes. Flooded twice daily by sea water, these soils—which stretch from Virginia south to Florida and westward into Louisiana are sometimes called “cat clay.” About half the 400,000 acres of Bohicket soils that have been mapped are in South Carolina.

So why would South Carolinians choose such a worthless soil?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Though such soils may not be popular with farmers, they are valuable wildlife habitat. In fact, the dominant plant, smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), actually helps to create new land as it accumulates sediment. Small wonder smooth cordgrass has been described as the single most important marsh plant species in the estuary of Chesapeake Bay, between Maryland and Virginia. Estuaries and saltwater marshes are of immense importance to marine life as well as terrestrial creatures.

The Bohicket series was established in Berkeley County, South Carolina in 1974. The type location is about half a mile south of Lobeco in Beaufort County.

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