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Walk in the Woods

Swamp Rabbit Trail

with Livability Educator Jaclin DuRant

I am fortunate to work in downtown Greenville, and thus have the opportunity to take occasional walks on the Swamp Rabbit trail. On one of my recent walks along the trail, I brought along my camera to capture some of the amazing nature that I see along the way.

photo of a Redbud (Cercis canadensis) in blossom

A Redbud (Cercis canadensis) in blossom

Many people use the Swamp Rabbit trail for exercise and transportation. The inclusion of bike and walking paths in urban environments benefit the cities’ population as a whole. Even if you are unable to use the trail yourself, the reduced traffic and congestion due to others using the trail can lead to reduced air pollution, less traffic accidents, and a shorter and safer commute.

Looking up: River Birch (Betula nigra)

Looking up: River Birch (Betula nigra)

One of my favorite things about walking along the Swamp Rabbit Trail in downtown Greenville is getting to walk beneath the trees. Trees provide a variety of important functions in an urban environment. Everyone knows that trees use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen as a respiratory product, but they also help to cool the city and reduce the urban heat island effect. Shade alone can reduce the temperature of a surface by 20 to 45°F according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

photo of Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Tree roots also stabilize soil, helping to prevent erosion and reduce the effects of nonpoint source pollution on streams and rivers by absorbing water and compounds in the water and by slowing storm water runoff. The leaves of trees absorb gaseous compounds from the air, leading to a reduction in air pollution. Additionally, trees provide shelter and food for a variety of animals. Many of the trees that can be found along the Swamp Rabbit trail are native to the upstate of South Carolina and are adapted to survive here.

photo of a tiny violet

This tiny violet was a lovely surprise

In addition to the trees, there are a wide variety of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and vines that grow alongside the trail. I really should carry a sign that says “I brake for flowers.” I could hardly walk ten feet without stopping to try and take a picture of one plant or another. (I do make sure that I step off the trail before taking my pictures, so that I don’t get in anyone’s way.) One of my favorite shots from this batch was of a crimson clover flower. Crimson clover is a leguminous plant that is often used as a cover crop in agricultural fields because of its ability to increase soil nitrogen content and stabilize the soil to prevent erosion. Bees are also big fans of crimson clover’s nectar.

photo of Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

On this particular walk, I was taking photographs of tree leaves to use in a lesson on tree identification. In order to have good pictures, I had to get pretty close to the leaves, and I was astounded by all of the insect life that I found. There were caterpillars, leafhoppers, and aphids with a ladybug nearby having lunch. Even though they can be pests, I really thought that the oak leafhopper nymphs were fantastically beautiful.

photo of Oak Leafhopper Nymphs

Oak Leafhopper Nymphs

The variety of life in this city never ceases to amaze me. My walk on the Swamp Rabbit trail was just ½ mile. I can’t imagine what wonders await me on the rest of the trail! You should check it out too. More Info on the Swamp Rabbit Trail

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