Arts Literature

Book Feature: Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction

Georgann Eubanks, Author

Working on her 2018 book The Month of Their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods awakened documentary storyteller Georgann Eubanks to some of the dangers that threaten flora of the south. The overharvesting of ramps—a traditional Cherokee food—for sale to restaurants, is one example. “That story led me to realize how our native plants are so important to our identity as a region,” says Eubanks.

Her interest piqued, she visited six states, selecting 12 plants to explore in Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction. “All of them have compelling stories about their discovery, the challenges to their survival and the passionate botanists and volunteers who are working to protect them,” she says.

While researching and writing the book, she was encouraged by meeting so many young people who have taken up the cause of saving endangered plants from extinction. “These determined advocates who are in their twenties and thirties are working to preserve the sites and natural features that help create and sustain our identity as a region,” Eubanks says. “These young folks are committed to the hard, physical labor of plant conservation, a practice which is often slow to show results.”

Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Plants on the Brink of Extinction, October, 2021, nonfiction, paperback, $25, by Georgann Eubanks, and published by University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. To learn more, visit and A reading will be held at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva on November 20 at 7 p.m.

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