Endangered Green Pitcher Plant

This last week we travelled to the pine bogs of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to photograph pitcher plants. The first bogs we visited had trails and boardwalks so our beach rolly hauled our camera gear and tripods in the 80 to 90 degree weather. The rolly was one of our best purchases as our gear seems to get heavier and heavier.

The last bog we visited is in a national forest with no organized trails so we had to bush-bash through a tangle of plants and over downed trees to get to the patch of endangered Green Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia oreophila) among a larger group of White-topped Pitcher Plants. We could see the bright green pitchers reflecting in the somewhat harsh sunlight. There were no clouds and our umbrellas could not shelter the backgrounds of these tall plants. Our surprise and delight in finding these very rare pitchers meant photographing in full sun.

There were only a few blossoms in the patch and this one was near two pitchers (front and back views) and an unopened pitcher. The flower stems are usually over 2 feet tall. The pitchers even taller.

There was a hot humid wind blowing so we had to increase the ISOs and reduce to apertures to get enough shutter speed. The weather was so hot that we did not stay as long as we would have preferred. While the pitchers stood tall and rigid, we wilted.

Most of the tall species of Sarracenia have a similar juvenile pitcher. They sprout with the leaf closed along its center seam. The leaf converts itself into a pitcher when it opens along the seam. The top of the leaf turns into a roof over the pitcher to protect it from the rain. which could dilute the enzymes which digest any insect that falls into the pitcher.

The Green Pitcher Plant has been on the national Endangered Species List since 1979 wherever it is found in very few locations in the Southeast. Residential and agricultural development are its greatest threat. Like many pitcher plants, they are fire dependent in the wet pine woods where they may be found. They are more likely to spread by rhizomes than by seed and young plants need wet areas.

We saw a few orchids at this location but they were too difficult to photograph in the tangle. We had photographed Spreading Pogonia, Grass Pink and Calypso orchids at several other bogs.

The last night (Saturday) we camped in Southeast Missouri at Trail of Tears State Park. The ranger had us move to a camp site on a hill because the Mississippi River was expected to flood the road to the lower campground. Just before the rain stated we heard several treefrogs in the tree next to our site. Planned to search for them in the morning. The storm let loose while we were eating dinner in our pop-up pickup camper. It continued all night and then dissipated and followed us most of the way home.

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