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13 Wildflowers in South Carolina (with Photos)

It’s not surprising that there are a wide variety of wildflowers in South Carolina, given its diverse settings, which vary from coastal marshes to mountain ranges. You can find over 680 species of plants native to the state, including delicate crimson clover and showy blue asters, creating a beautiful variety of colors and species. 

13 Wildflowers in South Carolina

State wildflowers of South Carolina

The state flower of South Carolina is the Yellow Jessamine, also known as the Carolina Jessamine. This beautiful flower is a member of the jasmine family and blooms in early spring with bright yellow trumpet-shaped flowers that have a sweet fragrance.

It is a popular ornamental plant and is often used in landscaping and as a trellis vine. The Yellow Jessamine is also a symbol of South Carolina’s resilience and strength, as it was able to survive and thrive after Hurricane Hugo devastated the state in 1989. The flower is celebrated each year during the Yellow Jessamine Festival held in the town of Aiken.

Let’s look at 13 other South Carolina wildflowers.

1. Tall ironweed

Tall ironweed 
Tall ironweed  | image by I, DL. via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Vernonia angustifolia
  • Zone: 7 – 9
  • Where to see: Throughout the state except for upstate
  • Season: Summer to Fall

You’ll find the tall ironweed, a perennial herb belonging to the Asteraceae family, growing up to approximately 3 to 5 ft. tall. The flowers come in white, pink, or purple and usually bloom from summer to fall in the state.

Tall Ironweed flourishes in a variety of habitats, including sand pine scrubs, meadow edges, and longleaf pine-wiregrass flatwoods, and likes sandy loam or loose sandy soils. 

2. Crimson Clover

Crimson clover
Crimson clover | image by Ralf Wimmer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Trifolium incarnatum
  • Zone: 6-8
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state 
  • Season: Spring to Summer

You’ll be pleased to learn that South Carolina has a lot of crimson clover, a short-growing flowering plant in the Fabaceae family. This annual herb grows upright to about 1 to 3 ft. tall, with trifoliate leaves and red or crimson flowers that bloom on elongated spikes during spring and summer. Crimson clover is also edible, with its blooms and sprouts bringing flavor and nutrition to various recipes. 

3. Oxeye Daisy

Oxeye daisy
Oxeye daisy | image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum leucanthemum
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state but less in outer coastal plain
  • Season: Summer

This widespread flowering plant known as the oxeye daisy is a perennial herb that can reach a height of 1 to 3 ft. It has hairy lower stems and leaves that get smaller as they progress up the stem.

Oxeye daisy is grown for horticulture purposes and can be used as a food ingredient or in herbal tea. It bears up to three daisy-like flower heads, each with white petals encircling yellow disc florets.

4. Bluets

Bluets | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Houstonia caerulea
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Throughout the state except Lowcountry
  • Season: Summer

If you see bluets, which are also called Quaker ladies or azure bluets, you’ll find a pretty wildflower with pale blue petals and a yellow center. The plant grows as a basal rosette of single, 20 cm-tall flowers on stalks that are topped with spatula-shaped leaves.

Azure bluet grows well in shady areas with moist and acidic soil and thrives with grasses. It can be found in various locations, including cliffs, alpine zones, forests, meadows, and by rivers or lakes.

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5. Columbine

Eastern red columbine
Eastern red columbine | Image by Jessica Jeffery from Pixabay
  • Scientific Name: Aquilegia canadensis
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see: Some parts of upstate to midland Carolina
  • Season: Spring

If you come across columbine, you’ll see a tall plant with many branches and beautiful flowers. The flowers of the columbine are red and yellow and shaped like bells that nod.

They have tubes filled with nectar that attract insects with long tongues and hummingbirds. Columbine is valued as a perennial species that thrive in the shade and has eye-catching blooms and lovely leaves, making it a well-liked ornamental.

6. Evening Primrose

common evening primrose
Common evening primrose | image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Oenothera biennis
  • Zone: 4 – 9
  • Where to see: Throughout the state
  • Season: Summer

Evening primrose, also called ‘Evening star’, has big yellow flowers that look like suns and only bloom in the evening. This plant was brought to the UK in the 1600s and now grows naturally in different places like dry waste ground, roadside verges, and sand dunes.

In the summer, it has tall spikes of flowers that attract nighttime pollinators, such as moths that are looking for nectar. This makes it a good option for gardens that support wildlife. 

7. Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen anne’s lace
Queen anne’s lace | image by Jordan Meeter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Daucus carota
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state but less in the coastal zone
  • Season: Spring to Summer

If you’ve seen Queen Anne’s lace in the state, also known as wild carrot, you’ll notice it growing in dry fields, roadside ditches, and open areas. The plant is named after Queen Anne because she pricked her finger while making lace, and a drop of blood fell in the center. This is similar to the dark purple floret in the center of the lacy flower, although it isn’t always very visible. You can identify this species by its green, fern-like leaves and small, white flowers in clusters. 

8. Swamp Azalea

Swamp azalea
Swamp azalea | image by Doug McGrady via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Rhododendron viscosum
  • Zone: 4 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: Summer

One of the wildflowers you’ll encounter in South Carolina is the swamp azalea, an evergreen or deciduous shrub with large leaves. This plant likes wet areas but needs good drainage to prevent water from pooling around its roots.

During summer, this species produces fragrant white flowers that are sticky and attract hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators. The species is suitable for natural-looking landscapes and can grow up to 2-8 feet in height.

9. Dewberry

Common dewberry
Common dewberry | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Rubus flagellaris
  • Zone: 5-10 
  • Where to see: Throughout the state
  • Season: Spring

The common dewberry is a wildflower that grows low to the ground, with long stems and fragrant white flowers that bloom during springtime. The plant makes dark purple fruits that taste sweet and sour when they’re fully ripe, and you can see them grow in different places like dry savannas and wooded areas. This species also attracts bees that are native to the area to help with pollination, and the fruit can be eaten and used in cooking.

10. Red Morning Glory

Red morning glory
Red morning glory | image by Michael Wolf via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Ipomoea coccinea
  • Zone: 2 – 11 
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: Summer to Fall

If you see the red morning glory, also called Redstar or Mexican morning glory, you’ll see its vines grow quickly, and it has pretty red flowers with an orange center. This species can grow up to 2 meters or more and is attractive to butterflies

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It comes from tropical America and has been brought to different places in the US, like South Carolina. Red morning glories grow best in areas that have been disturbed and can often be found along roads, stream banks, and other areas where waste accumulates. 

11. Seaside Goldenrod

Seaside goldenrod
Seaside goldenrod | image by Sam Fraser-Smit via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Solidago sempervirens
  • Zone: 3 – 10 
  • Where to see: Coastal plain
  • Season: Spring

The Seaside goldenrod is a plant native to eastern North America and parts of the Caribbean, with an introduced presence in the Great Lakes region. This goldenrod can reach a height of 4-6 feet and is easily distinguished from other Solidago species by its smooth leaves without teeth or hair.

They thrive in coastal habitats, such as sand dunes, salt marshes, and estuary banks, and exhibit high tolerance to saline soils and salt spray. 

12. Creeping St. John’s Wort

Creeping st. john’s wort
Creeping st. john’s wort | image by Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Hypericum calycinum
  • Zone: 5 – 9 
  • Where to see: Parts of Piedmont
  • Season: Summer 

If you’re looking for a highly adaptable ground cover in South Carolina, consider the creeping St. John’s wort. This evergreen plant can multiply quickly, covering hillsides and embankments, even in shady areas. It can grow up to 12 inches tall, with ovate-oblong leaves that are deep green in the sunlight but light yellow in the shade. 

The most noticeable thing about creeping St. John’s wort is its bright yellow flowers that are 3 inches wide and have five petals around a tuft of yellow stamens. 

13. Blue Asters

Eastern silver aster
Eastern silver aster | image by Christopher Warneke via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Aster concolor
  • Zone: 4-7
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: Fall

Another wildflower you might encounter in South Carolina is the blue aster, which is more common along roadsides and in dry, sandy, oak-pine barrens and open fields. This perennial herbaceous plant reaches a height of 30–80 cm (12–31 inches) and has grayish-green, silky-looking leaves. The flowers have a lovely mix of pink and purple petals, with some white ones being rare.