Located in Appling, Georgia, Heggie’s Rock is a granite outcrop named for Archibald Heggie, a Scot who acquired the property around 1808 through his wife, Martha Ramsey. Similar to other outcrops within the Georgia Piedmont, Heggie’s Rock is comprised of large expanses of granitoid rock and a variety of vegetation, such as lichens, mosses, ferns and fern allies, flowering herbaceous plants, grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees. The outcrop flora form distinct communities within the habitats of exposed rock, solution pits, soil islands, and marginal areas.
Many of the endemic species at Heggie’s Rock and other outcrop natural communities have evolved over long periods to adapt to the landscape’s rather harsh environment. During the summer, bare rock surfaces can reach well over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, rainfall runoff is quite rapid, evaporation rates are very high, and the shallow soils dry quickly. In contrast, soils may remain saturated for extended intervals during winter and spring months mostly because the rocky substrate prevents water from percolating out of the soil.
Throughout history, the natural beauty of granite outcrops was unappreciated by many landowners, who traditionally used such landscapes as dumping grounds, loading decks for timber harvest, trails for off-road vehicles, sites for camping, and so forth. As Heggie’s Rock has remained largely undisturbed over the past two centuries, The Nature Conservancy presently owns and manages it as a preserve. Collectively, these photographs form a mosaic that begins to unravel the intricate beauty and distinct patterns of the flora that have long characterized Heggie’s Rock.
Photo essay published in May-June 2014 issue of South x Southeast Photo Magazine.