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Listen to Episode 15

Understand SC: Why are Charleston palmetto rose sales so controversial?

Understand SC Palmetto Roses

Just two weeks ago, Charleston officials announced they're temporarily closing three of the four booths where palmetto roses are sold downtown amid safety concerns at the City Market.

Last summer, a teenager selling palmetto roses was arrested after a confrontation with a police officer, spurring officials to evaluate a program requiring purveyors to hold a permit from the city.

Those who live in Charleston or who have ever visited the Holy City have likely come across vendors selling the iconic roses — but how did the city become so involved in regulating them, and why is the program so controversial today?

The history of palmetto roses is a little fuzzy, but they likely date back a century or more. It wasn't until around the early 2000s that vendors began selling them around Charleston in large numbers. Then the city started requiring vendors go through a program and acquire a license to sell the roses. Today, some who have been making the roses since before the program existed don't understand why a license is mandatory.

In this week's episode, we're diving into more of the palmetto rose's history in South Carolina, and why there's so much tension surrounding them recently.

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Follow Matthew Clough @MattAClough.

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