The Green Swamp contains some of the country’s finest examples of longleaf pine savannas. The open savannas have a diverse herb layer with many orchids and insectivorous plants. Almost 13,000 acres of the preserve, however, are comprised of a dense evergreen shrub bog (pocosin) dominated by gallberry, titi, and sweetbay.
The Green Swamp contains at least 14 different species of insectivorous plants, including extensive populations of Venus flytrap, sundew, butterworts and bladdeworts, and four species of pitcher plant. The preserve is also home to many rare animals, including the American alligator, Henslow's sparrow, Bachman's sparrow, and Hessel's hairstreak butterfly.
The Nature Conservancy’s many management activities at the Green Swamp include controlled burning and restoring pine plantations to longleaf pine savannas.
The Importance of Fire
Many of the plants in the Green Swamp benefit from periodic burning; pond pine’s cones burst and release seeds after being exposed to very high temperatures and wiregrass flowers vigorously after a fire. Longleaf pine seeds need bare ground to germinate and plenty of sunlight to grow, typical traits of plants that evolved in a landscape with frequent fires. The grasses and sedges of the Green Swamp have roots that are protected from the hottest fires, as do the orchids and insectivorous plants. Fire knocks back shrubby vegetation so light can reach the forest floor, allowing these understory plant species to persist.
For more information about how fire has historically benefited this great landscape, see our Controlled Burning Brochure.
History of the Preserve
Federal Paper Board donated 13,850 acres of this preserve to The Nature Conservancy in 1977 and an additional 2,577 acres in the late 1980s. The Nature Conservancy has since purchased additional land in the preserve. The management of the Green Swamp Preserve is supported by the Estate of Harry Patrick Gold and Erma Green Gold.