Toothache Tree (Xanthozylum Clava-hercules)

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Xanthozylum Clava-Hercules is blooming right now, and it seems to be host for a wide variety of pollinators that are drawn to it.  This plant is also known as Hercules Club, or Southern Prickly Ash.  It is a pretty amazing tree native to the lowcountry.  Dewees Island Ecologist, Lori Sheridan Wilson, often gives a taste of it to students when she is on an ecology tour of the island.  “Native Americans might have taught the early settlers about the medicinal properties of this tree,” she says, breaking off a piece to share.  “You can chew the bark or leaves and experience a numbing sensation that relieves a toothache.”

On mature trees, the bark is covered with large, spiny protuberances (hence the name prickly ash),  and it loses its leaves in the winter.  The tree loves calcium rich soils, and is sort of a barrier island specialist, tolerating salt spray periodically.  It is a native citrus relative, and a host tree for the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, whose caterpillars actually resemble bird droppings as a way of camouflage.  SCDNR, in a great downloadable publication called Best Management Practices for Wildlife in Maritime Forest Developments recommends planting Hercules club as a way to attract caterpillars and butterflies.

Some plants that are preferred food-plants for caterpillars and adults include: Hercules club, black cherry, sassafras, fennel, red bay, passion-flower, milkweed, pawpaw, violets, loquat, Carolina laurel cherry, daylilies, Salvia, rosemary, asters, marigolds and honeysuckle.

Last week, one bush was covered with pollinators of all shapes and sizes:  from ants to bees to wasps and hornets to butterflies and moths.  A mockingbird hopped from branch to branch, snacking on the insects which were drawn to the blooms.


Turtle rescue!

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This weekend, there was a turtle rescue in Dewees Inlet, according to the blog from the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.  Still alive, but severely debilitated, the turtle managed to survive the night Saturday after being rescued by members of the (IOP/Sullivans) Island Turtle team and SCDNR and transported to the hospital.

Rescuers Courtney and her dog Moses, are no strangers to sea turtles, spending a great deal of time in coastal waters for work (Barrier Island Eco Tours) and play. While enjoying the beautiful spring day, Courtney and Moses encountered the sea turtle floating at the water’s surface and it was obvious the animal was in distress. As they inched the boat closer to get a better look, the turtle was unable to dive.

Rescuers got the turtle to the hospital, where they assessed its condition and started treatment, according to Kelly Thorvalson.

Read the whole story and latest news here.

Old Cell Tower Next to Dewees Marina on IOP Removed

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Crown Castle, the owners of the cell phone tower on the Isle of Palms, removed the shorter, old cell phone tower on Saturday. A new much taller tower was installed on the same property months ago and Crown Castle has been transitioning the antenna equipment over.

It’s our understanding that the primary motivation for installing the new taller tower was to improve radio communication for emergency services, including the police and fire service. Along the way it appears that Crown Castle boosted the height of the cell phone antennas.

Below you can see pictures of the tower as they’re getting ready to take it down with an articulating crane truck and after the old tower was removed.

Cell Tower Being Removed
Cell Tower Being Removed
Single Cell Tower
Single Cell Tower; Old Tower No Longer Standing