Explore Specialized Species
It is no secret that Gorges State Park plays host to several unique ecological niches. Due to the geological and climactic features that encompass the park, specialized species have adapted to exist within the unique conditions of Gorges State Park.
Within Gorges State Park, spotted salamanders are an indicator of biodiversity and unique habitats. These salamanders thrive in the moist hardwood ecosystems of the Blue Ridge Escarpment that encompasses the park. Freshwater streams and springs provide ample habitats for these algae-loving amphibians.
Bryophytes & Ferns
Bryophytes (mosses, hornworts, and liverworts) are non-vascular plants, meaning they have no roots. These unique plants play an important role in regulating forests through ecosystem services. Specialized fern species such as the Gorge Filmy-Fern, Appalachian Filmy-Fern, and Dwarf Filmy-Fern are characterized by leaves only one cell layer thick. In fact, the Gorge Filmy-Fern exists nowhere else on Earth except the southern Appalachians. Together bryophytes and ferns assist the forests in Gorges State Park by filtering water and nutrients, protecting surfaces and animals, and providing habitat for species like the Spotted Salamander.
Also called Shortia, the Oconee Bell is a rare wildflower that exists only in special places within the southern Appalachians; special places like Gorges State Park. This flower is characterized by white and yellow frilled flowers atop red stems and evergreen leaves. Often growing in colonies, these plants can be found alongside streams that populate the Jocassee-Gorges escarpment.