Pitcher plant heaven

pitcher plant family

(August 18) I’ve decided to remove the original introduction to this post to try and hide the location of the bog from plant thieves. My apologies for those who didn’t get a chance to read it before the re-write.

man in bog

This is on private, unposted land, and is in remarkably good shape. I’ve never seen so many pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) in one place before.

pitcher plant flowers

I didn’t get more than ten feet into the bog before I started snapping pictures of the charismatic carnivorous plants. And perhaps I should’ve stayed near the road, because the farther in we went, the harder it became to avoid stepping on the damn things.

pitcher plant dried flower stalks

Some clumps were dotted with this year’s flowers, while others seemed to have exhausted themselves by flowering last year. Every clump was unique and practically begging to be photographed.

mantis on pitcher plant

As if the local flies and gnats don’t already have it hard enough, I found a praying mantis stalking through one clump of pitchers. I wonder how many small insects have escaped from its barbed forelegs only to lose their footing on the downward-pointing hairs of a pitcher plant and slip into its acidic stew of digestive juices?

pitcher plants and red sphagnum

We like to think that all the best places are in public hands, but as this nameless bog demonstrates, that’s not the case — and with almost 75% of Pennsylvania’s 17 million acres of forestland in private hands, how could it be? Unfortunately, we are in the middle of an energy boom, and many of our last, best places are getting trashed in the mad rush for quick profits from unnatural gas and taxpayer handouts wind energy.

tiger swallowtail on Joe Pye weed

Maybe that’s why I always end up taking so many pictures at these kinds of places. Someday it may be the only proof we have that they ever existed.

See the complete photo set on Flickr.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

4 Comments


  1. Wonderful photos!
    It’s a Hobson’s choice we have between fracking and destructive deep oil retreaval methods and beautiful unspoiled places like this.

    Reply

  2. Gorgeous photos, I love the colours and the close-ups of the pitcher plants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one myself. All those white flowers around the man looked at first glance to be daisies, which aren’t blog plants at all, so are these this year’s stalks of pitcher as well? I can understand the urgent need to protect this amazing area.

    Reply

    1. No, that’s cotton grass. Glad you like the photos! I’m not sure you have this species out in your next of the woods.

      Reply

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