Field Trip, USA 24th-31st July 2002
After 12 months of planning and help from those who have already been to these sites, my friend Stewart McPherson and I travelled to the US to see Carnivorous plants especially Sarracenia in the wild. Below is a short description of what we have seen at each of the sites
Gas Station site, Perdido Alabama.
We found plants in the ditch on the south side of highway 31 going into the trees. Plants found were S. leucophylla, S. rubra Subsp. wheryi, psittacina, Drosera capillaris, filiformis var. tracyi. We did not find the site behind the gas station itself, but we noticed the whole area behind had become a pine forest plantation. Apparently, this was once a huge stand.
Roadside ditch 500m south of Ctenium fields site.
We found some very nice plants of S. leucophylla here, but again it was obvious these plants were survivors from a once larger stand and found plants growing into the trees.
Ctenium fields, Perdido.
A better site with some good sized plants of S. leucophylla. We spoke to the owner of the bog and apparently someone earlier in the year removed a lot of the pitchers to sell to the florist trade. Also they get a lot of visitors to this particular site. The bog was largely clear of shrub, but could do with a 'burn' around the edges. Accordingly to the owner, they can't do that being right next to the Interstate. Also here was S. rubra ssp. wheryi and S. psittacina
We saw our first plants on the right side of the road in a ditch, one could not miss the striking white topped pitchers of the S. leucophylla plants. On closer inspection, we found some very nice S. purpurea ssp. venosa, var burkei, psitacina and even a hybrid of x mitchelliana there. Again, the plants were seen growing into the scrub behind. This looked like of a classic case of fire suppression to us as the plants were being heavily shaded out.
Travelling further North, we found another nice patch of S. leucophylla in the roadside ditch. We parked our car and saw a more open area behind a line of trees. Here we found S. alata in small numbers, but also many hybrids, interg rades between the 2 species. We also found S. psittacina and D. filiformis tracyi. There were a vast number of plants here, but there are small planted pine trees which will totally shade this entire stand out within a few years.
De Soto National Forest
At White's Crossing, we found a very well managed stand of S. alata in all its colour forms (except all green) Here we found very maroon coloured pitchers in very large numbers, almost dominating some parts of this stand. This was one of the best sites we found on the entire trip. There were acres upon acres of plants and we could see plants further in the distance. We drove further West and all along the roadside you could see vast numbers of these plants. We found also here a butterwort, but we think it was P. primuliflora.
De Soto National forest
Heading south about 12 miles north of the I 10 we found a small road side ditch with a stocky form of S.alata as well as rubra wherryi and psittacina. Also we found Drosera capillaris (surprise, surprise as we found it everywhere at every site!) and filiformis tracyi.
Driving to the motel at Mobile, we saw quite a few S,alata on the South side of the I 10
Minmac bog, Silverhill, Alabama. This is a privately owned bog who have a nice, well maintained site full of S.leucophylla, some s. purpurea ssp. venosa var, burkei and even a single hybrid. The owner does a guided tour of his bog and each Autumn burns back any competing vegetation. It is a virtual garden. Here are also yellow fringed orchids and some other rarities. It was very well worth visiting.
Weeks Bay pitcher plant bog preserve
A nice board walk site where there some very nice leucos. It could do with a burn and the best plants were at the beginning of the site. The board walk ventured into a heavily wooded area, but we did not go further. There were also 2 clumps of s. alata. This site also had info boards. Accordingly to the info, D. intermedia and S. purpurea ssp. venosa were here, but we did not see any.
Biophilia nursery, Elberta, Alabama
Not really a natural bog, but a couple are trying to introduce and rewet some of their land. They have some small plantings, but the ground is very dry. The sell some excellent CP and a good range of books.
Pensacola Fields, near Milton Florida
We were not sure if we had the same site as described to us, but found on private land next to the road side S. flava, leucophylla, psittacina and a Pinguicula. The site looks as though it will be no longer in a few years.
Yellow River Site.
The whole area was very overgrown and we found no plants here at all
Blackwater River State forest.
You have to know where you are going! After asking some very helpful forest rangers, we found the 2 sites we were looking for. 1st site contained S. flava var. rugelii, some S. flava var. ornata and even atropurpurea. We found leucophylla moorei and psittacina. We found a catesbaei, but we could not find any purpurea here.
By a pond, we found S.flava, S.x moorei, S.leuco, S.psittacina, S.x catesbaei and the usual Drosera. We found no colour variants of flava.
We made a short trek as there was a thunder storm developing. We were informed by the forest ranger where there a stand, but we did not make it that far. We did find a fair number of s, leucophylla, S. flava var. rugelii and hybrids.
This contains S. leucophylla and a single S.purpurea we found. This bog looks like it will be no more as the encroaching trees are shading out the plants, This site took a fair bit of finding. The plants we found were very etiolated.
Conecuh Forest Park
We stopped at a cleared part of forest and found some of the largest Drosera filiformis tracyi we have seen all week.
A massive savannah to the right of the forest track contained a high quantity of S. flava var.rugelii, var. ornata, atropurpurea and rubricorpora , psittacia, leucophylla (red tubed!) and very white plants. Also were some spectacular moorei plants. Again we found a catesbaei but no purpurea. This site was quite dry and during this day, we learned about a 5 year drought that was affecting the region.
The other sites in the area we were told about we did not visit due to lack of time.
We spotted some very nice but totally isolated leucos and some Psittacina and the usual Drosera next door to Jimmy's Paint & body inc. on the East side of the road heading into town. This site is up for sale.
Sandy Creek Road site 1
After much difficulty and trudging through dense trees, we found the plants. All were in pretty bad shape due to the lack of light. There were quite a large number of psittacina. We even found Utricularia purpurea here with its purple flowers. This site is part of a forest plantation and again it is hard to imagine someone coming in and doing fire management here! What future?
This site has gone unless we missed something. There were drainage ditches and the whole place looked dry
Here was a gold mine. Many thousands of red tubed flavas, ornatas, a couple of var. rugelii, some very purple and all red plants. What we noticed is that there were very few flower heads. We were not sure if someone had collected all the flower heads here or if it was due to some other reason. We also noticed some plants we very old. The rhizome spread on 1 plant was almost 3m across and could be 50 years old at a guess.
Sumatra, Apalachicola national forest park
We went to the famous red tube site. It was incredible. I think we saw every possible variation there was here. It was totally bewildering for me in particular. Some plants were huge with lids larger than my hand (OK I have small hands!) and 3 foot high. Here were also varieties atropurpurea, ornata and rugelii in addition to the predominant rubricorpora. There were plants gowing well into the Cypress scrub.
We saw plenty of Pinguicula planifolia and S.psittacina. as well as the usual Drosera.
Forest trail site 2
We observed many flava rugelii and the odd rubricorpora plant dotted in
This is the eastern limit site of S, leucophylla and also has quite a few Dionaea here too. This was not a particularly large site and could do with a burn. After speaking to the staff at Atlanta botanical gardens, the venus flytraps were introduced there in the 1930s There were many thousands all through the bog. We saw all green to deep red trapped plants. We also noted the site was up for sale.
Doerun Pitcher plant reserve
Not this best signposted site! We found the plants in the long leaf pine, but were very dry. The pitchers were well past their best and not in the best of shape. We found typical S.minor and a few S. psittacina. These plants were affected by the long drought. The area is managed and has a periodic burn.
Okefenokee, eastern entrance.
We went on the board walk and found S. minor and psittacina. The water levels are very low here.
Okefenokee, North entrance
On the road coming in, we saw large numbers of S. minor in the roadside ditch.
In the swamp, we took the boat trip, but due to the extremely low water we were not able to see and of the S. flava here in the reserve. We then made the long trip afterwards back to Atlanta.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Here we met up with the staff at ABG; Ron Determann, Ron Gagliardo, Carol Helton. We were able to see how they are conserving some of the wild populations of some of the more rare Sarracenia such as rubra ssp. alabamensis and jonesii. They have also found a small stand of leucophylla in southern Georgia where they can do something there. They are also building some artificial bogs within the gardens to reflect the work they are doing in the field. We also shown their tissue culture lab where they work with some other labs to produce large numbers of cultured plants.
We also looked at their superb Nepenthes they had in various parts of the glass houses. One gets the impression the gardens themselves leans especially towards carnivorous plants and orchids! While we were there, we met up with a guy who I am in contact with over the Petflytrap forum.
In conclusion, we have made the following observations;
Where the plants live in state forest parks and national wildlife reserves, the plants seem to have a secure future, but the smaller isolated roadside sites and on edges of pine forest, there the sites seem nonviable in the long term.
Also the long drives between the sites, the colonies seem very isolated compared to when one reads from transcripts from years ago how common pitcher plant stands were.
We also felt the importance of maintaining accurate records from our on collections back at home as one gets the feeling that plants we have with site data will be the only 'survivors' left!
The other was the drought affecting the region, the plants were in most conditions very dry and of course in a lot of sites there was a lot of pest damage to the pitchers by Exyra moths and larvae
All in all, the trip was well worth the effort, and the heat! We will do this trip again, but earlier in the season when the plants are looking at their best.