A group of high school students planting sequoias plans to make a lasting impact with landmark trees that will be enjoyed for generations.

Throughout Lexington County South Carolina, the students are encouraging the spread of sequoia trees across being beneficial for the environment and tourism.

Students Planting SequoiasThe effort began last spring when a local community leader, Lill Mood, read about the towering trees and decided to find out if they could grow and flourish locally.

Mood c ontacted teachers at the school after research showed the trees can thrive with care.  Students were looking for a project that combined civics and leadership lessons.

“It’s out of the ordinary – I didn’t know how much interest there would be,” Mood said. “It just struck a spark.”

The idea was an easy sell, biology teacher Karen Walton said.

“It’s very helpful for our environment, putting a lot of moisture into the air,” she said of of the trees, which can live centuries and exceed 300 feet in height.

Although not native to the area, the trees can take root if planted atop hilltops with good drainage, Walton said.Students Planting Sequoias

Sequoias planted in the 1800s are scattered across the Midlands, said James Bryan, operator of Botanica Nursery in the Ballentine area.

Bryan planted seedlings in his yard 27 years ago that he says are now 65 feet high.

He brought those back “on a lark” after visiting California.

The seedlings “just exploded” after being planted on his home on the Lake Murray waterfront, he said.

Bryan’s fascination with the trees has led him to adopt the nickname “Jimmy Sequoia Seed.”

His goal is to make South Carolina known as the home for such trees in the eastern half of the nation.

Lawyer Dick Harpootlian said curiosity flares occasionally about the sequoia in the front of his downtown Columbia office that he’s been told dates from the 1890s. “It’s big and good-looking, but you really don’t notice it,” he said.

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