Friday, May 25, 2007

Some bog plants

I spent yesterday hiking in the Pine Barrens looking for neat plants. I didn't find many that I was hoping for, but thought I'd share those that I did find. I ended up at Webb's Mill Bog and was glad to see that it was safe from the recent wildfire. Quite a few rare plants can be seen here, but the trick seems to be knowing when to go looking for them, which I'm still learning.
The Pitcher plants were blooming; these are carnivorous plants and insects are drawn to the cluster of leaves (the pitcher) that are below the flower. These pitchers hold water and when an insect falls in, they can't crawl or fly out and are then consumed by the plant.
I was happy to find the first of three closely related bog orchids in bloom - this is Arethusa, which is also called Dragon's Mouth. The lip of the flower serves as the landing pad for insects, usually bumblebees, who come to pollinate them. These grow only in bogs, peaty meadows, and damp places where sphagnum moss grows. There were maybe a dozen in bloom from my vantage point, and most were growing in close association with small cedars.
My favorite find of the day were the sundews - this is a Thread-leaved Sundew - nothing much to it, but these are cool little plants that have hairs tipped with sticky glands to attract and trap insects. This is another carnivorous plant that relies on insects for extra nutrients that can't otherwise be obtained because of the nutrient-poor environment in which it grows. If you enlarge the pic, you'll see that there are two flies trapped already in the sticky hairs. They're tiny things, maybe just three inches tall, but they glisten in the sunlight. They'll bloom late in June.

13 comments:

Dave said...

Great pictures! They remind me why I like bogs so much.

John said...

I don't think I have seen any carnivorous plants in the wild. I will have to pay closer attention.

Cathy said...

Cool pictures. It took me a few seconds, but sure enough - I saw the teensy flies. Nature is certainly fascinating.

Mary said...

I met you last Fall when the flowers were bitten. Now I am realizing how much you know about plants, etc. etc.!

Amazing photos - I saw the flies.

LauraHinNJ said...

Dave: Webb's Mill is neat because it's accessible and has a boardwalk. It's just off the side of a busy road through the barrens and you'd have no idea it was there if you didn't know to look for it. I'm sure there must be similar places in the Pine Barrens, but they're closely held secrets.

John: I haven't seen these anywhere else, but I'm only just starting to look!

Cathy: I wish my photos were better - but these plants were either really tiny or too far away for a sharp shot.

It's a neat place and not really well known other than among plant enthusiasts, I guess. Normally I'm the only one there, but yesterday I met up with a man in his late seventies who told me he was a botany professor at a local university and often led field trips there and was first brought there years ago by his mom.

Mary: I have a few good books is all. Most show wonderful photos but don't mention where to actually find all those rare plants - so quite a bit of searching is required. This bog is a sure thing, though.

Susan Gets Native said...

Call me weird, but I love carnivorous plants!
What kind of evolutionary thing was going on when they adapted to eat bugs????

Liza Lee Miller said...

So cool, Laura. Wow. Thanks for sharing such a unique environment.

Larry said...

Interesting Laura-I had no idea that you could see carnivorous plants in this region of the country.-I thought they were in more exotic areas-I used to have a Venus flytrap when I was a kid.-It was strange to think of a plant as a pet.-"Feed me Seymour!"

jimmy said...

Relly like the orchid...never seen one before that looks like that.

burning silo said...

Beautiful photos of the bog plants, Laura. I know how difficult they are to photograph as most are small and usually located where you can't move in close for a shot.

LauraHinNJ said...

Susan: They are pretty neat.

Liza: Wish it were closer to home so that I could visit more often, really.

Jimmy: I was thinking of you when I saw these, because I know how much you like orchids.

Bev: Like I mentioned, Webb's Mill is nice because of the boardwalk - no need to get wet or disturb the fragile environment. The sundews and pitcher plants were close enough to the boardwalk, but the orchids were way out and obscured by other plants so that I couldn't get a nice pic. I used my 200-400mm to take these, just because the plants were so far off. Not sharp like I would like, but I'm glad to have found them at all.

Patrick Belardo said...

My g/f and I finally got to Webb's Mill yesterday. It took a little effort to find it, but it was great. We're going to go back towards the end of the month. Hopefully some other plants will be in bloom then. What an awesome place!!! I'll post something about it later today.

dave_hurd said...

Just found your blog. Nice photos.
I was at Webb's Mill bog with a county van trip with the Parks and
Recreation. Then we went to Rare
Find Nursery where i purchased
several different pitcher plants.