Saving the Wild South

The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction

By Georgann Eubanks

270 pp., 6 x 9, 27 color plates, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6490-3
    Published: October 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6491-0
    Published: October 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5983-9
    Published: October 2021

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The American South is famous for its astonishingly rich biodiversity. In this book, Georgann Eubanks takes a wondrous trek from Alabama to North Carolina to search out native plants that are endangered and wavering on the edge of erasure. Even as she reveals the intricate beauty and biology of the South's plant life, she also shows how local development and global climate change are threatening many species, some of which have been graduated to the federal list of endangered species.

Why should we care, Eubanks asks, about North Carolina's Yadkin River goldenrod, found only in one place on earth? Or the Alabama canebrake pitcher plant, a carnivorous marvel being decimated by criminal poaching and a booming black market? These plants, she argues, are important not only to the natural environment but also to southern identity, and she finds her inspiration in talking with the heroes the botanists, advocates, and conservationists young and old on a quest to save these green gifts of the South for future generations. These passionate plant lovers caution all of us not to take for granted the sensitive ecosystems that contribute to the region's long-standing appeal, beauty, and character.

About the Author

Georgann Eubanks is a writer and Emmy-winning documentarian. Her most recent book is The Month of Their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods through the Year.
For more information about Georgann Eubanks, visit the Author Page.


"There’s great urgency when it comes to saving threatened plants, and Saving the Wild South is an inspiring, journalistic overview of endangered and important species, with broad appeal for gardeners and conservationists."—Foreword Reviews

"Eubanks's determined journey to see these plants and talk to those who are trying to preserve biodiversity in the wild South make this book revelatory, joyous and sobering."—Southern Review of Books

"A highly readable account that roams from wetlands to mountaintops. . . .The images show not only elusive plants and flowers, but the various people Eubanks encounters in her searches, giving the book the feel of an illustrated travel journal such as a 19th-century naturalist might have produced."—Chapter 16

"Eubanks makes these stories her own, recounting her personal interactions with the plants and people concerned. . . . useful for laypersons or beginning students wanting to learn about southern native plants and their heritage, both cultural and biological."—CHOICE

"Part botanical history and part current-day travelogue, Eubanks makes the reader feel as if they were along for the ride. . . . Eubanks’ writing includes striking prose . . . This book would be of particular interest to native and general plant enthusiasts as well as conservationists."—Georgia Library Quarterly

“This beautiful book calls clearly to each of us, asking us to understand the native botanical treasures in the distinct geography of the American South. So many wrenching, poignant, important stories that I had not known fill this calm, sensible book, whose pages are bound together with vines, in whose pages wildflowers are pressed. Think of this book as an expedition to plants and stories you can scarcely believe exist. You will be changed by it.”—Janisse Ray, author of Wild Spectacle: Seeking Wonders in a World Beyond Humans