The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Idaho fen-hopping in 2006

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Rapidly varying vegetation:
The field of cotton grass above gives you a tiny taste of what Tranquil Basin is like. It is a rapidly changing matrix of different habitat and vegetation types. It really is extremely complex--a few steps can take you through several different microcommunities, from Sphagnum bed, to dense grasses, short shrubs, open water, streamlets, or different compositions of wildflowers. It was exceptionally pretty, but also completely devoid of carnivorous plants.

The cotton grass, by the way, is Eriophorum angustifolium (=E. polystachion). Thanks to Chris Murphy for the species identification (I didn't have Hitchock & Cronquist with me, remember?). I got excited when I saw the Eriophorum, because this often occurs in Drosera habitat (at least, in California). But there were no Drosera here!

After 3.5 hours of wandering through the basin, I was losing hope. I had surveyed the entire middle of the basin, the eastern edge, and the entire north half. Glumly I started making notes on the parts of the basin I had searched so on any future trips to the site I could concentrate on other points. So much for my friggin' spidey sense!

It was much hotter work than I had anticipated--I hadn't expected all the full-sun tromping--and I was moving through my drinking water much faster than I had expected.

Working more on perseverance than enthusiasm, I decided to try an ambitious and perhaps last push to another opening I spied on the far west nook of the basin. I took a short cut through what appeared to be open woods, but this was a mistake as it was choked with downed lumber that I had to crawl over, one crisscrossed log at a time. Alas. Finally I pushed my way through the vegetation and popped back into the full sun. I looked down at the ground.

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Revised: October 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005