The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Sarracenia alata with a lagniappe, 2005

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Finally, we found them!
Yep, lots more moisture here, in fact there were areas of open, standing water. And with the increased water: Sarracenia psittacina! These were just about a week from flowering. Excellent.

Even though you can see charred, black twigs are visible in the upper right hand portion of this photograph, the needle and twig litter among these plants was unburnt. I'm guessing that at the time of the most recent burn, the pine litter was saturated with a thin layer of water. The fire must have burned away all the woody vegetation, but could not eat down into the peaty, organic (and burnable!) soil because of all that moisture. Excellent burn conditions for the pitcher plants! Thank you, DeSoto Forest Service staff!

As I have seen in plants growing in very different circumstances in Okefenokee Swamp, the first spring pitchers were erect. Interesting. I wonder why? Light intensity was high, so etiolation wasn't the reason for the skyward pitchers. Do the plants have some pre-programmed expectation that the first pitchers will have to fight through an overlying layer of grasses? Ah, but in areas where the fire frequency regime is normal, it is likely that such grassy growth would have been burned away during fall and winter storms. If the plants are trying to reach above flood waters, what about the oft-stated theory that this plant likes being submerged, so it can capture aquatics? Fascinating.

Hey, here is a peculiar idea. Look at the similarity between the reddening bulbous pitcher heads and the flower buds, which will soon open with red flowers. Could it be that this plant is producing flowers and leaves which mimic each other in general appearance (red, bulbous structures)? Why? To bring more pollinators to the flowers? Or perhaps to capture and digest the tiny insects which might be attracted to the flowers, but which perhaps are not the primary pollinators of the plants? Maybe this idea has some merit--I'll think about it more.

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Revised: October 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005