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Here's a very peculiar yet outstanding moorei that stuck out of the crowd for it's slight golden color, oddly shaped "back" (hence the unglamorous name) and leucophylla dominant phenotype. The parent plant was a vigorous S. flava var. rugelii Covington Co, AL (this was used as the pod parent) and the pollen donor was a wide, somewhat circular-mouthed, bright white S. leucophylla Covington Co, AL. Despite being man-made, this hybrid is still true to location. It was surprising that the leucophylla genes were so strong in this cross. Had I not divulged the details of the cross, one may have assumed this was a leucophylla back-cross, but it's an F1 hybrid! I'm still pretty surprised by these results. Typically, it's very difficult to make such a cross using flava as the pod parent because flavas usually bloom out before leucophyllas open up, but some years, with the weather not being consistent, we get lucky? When you grow out a genetically diverse population, you also sometimes get some early blooming leucos. I also suspect that the father leucophylla has moorei genes in it generations ago because of the wide mouth, which may explain why it bloomed earlier than the rest of its kin from the same population. Did it matter which plant I used as the pod donor and pollen donor? No idea, but it seemed less likely that others have used flava as the pod parent, and whatever the reason, it yielded at least one gem, possibly 2. The rest of the siblings were very uneventful:imagine a hybridy looking flava that's kinda greenish yellow, maybe some light veins and a flava looking lid...nothing to really talk about. I did get one other leucophylla dominant hybrid that looks really nice, and photos are shown below. Here's some pics of S. x moorei 'Haunchback', photos mostly taken 8/21/16, this plant is in a 4" pot but the traps are close to 2' tall, it's YUUUUUUUUGE considering it's still a youngish seedling: Why the heck did Mike Wang give it this ugly, ridiculous name? Pictures speak a 1000 words, this plant never used its legs to lift heavy objects: This photo was taken when the trap had just opened, it was less colorful back then: not the best picture of this plant, but here's The mother (pod parent) to this plant, who would have guessed? And finally, here's another sibling from the same cross with great potential:
Of all the areas I've seen in the wild, Mobile County seems to be the absolute worst in terms of Sarracenia habitat. I thought other places were pretty bad, but even in somewhat remote areas in Mobile Co. where plants have historically existed, we couldn't find anything. In the past, this County was abundant with S. leucophylla, S. rosea, S. psittacina, S. alata, and even some S. flavas were reported to exist way back in the day. Today, if you want to visit the large fields of S. leucophyllas, you can't because that field is now part of a house, and the rest of the former Savanna has been altered for farming purposes. S. flava is extremely rare in Alabama, and it no longer exists in Mobile County. Most of the land we observed here was disturbed or destroyed, very little has been left untouched. We were hopeful to find S. rosea in this area but the plants eluded us, and we had no luck. Do they still exist? I have no idea, but there's still hope that maybe some small pockets of plants are alive. I think this area has been decimated because the big city (Mobile) has a large population, which has placed a tremendous amount of pressure on the land and surrounding vicinity. The closer you are to a large population of people, the less of a chance anything is still extant. It reminds me of the San Francisco Peninsula, California (my hometown): land is so scarce and the population is so dense, even in state owned preserves, populations of rare plants have been recently destroyed to update gas pipelines. Good thing Sarracenia aren't from around here: they would have been extinct decades ago! Most of what we found were the alata/leucophylla hybrids, and some were so overgrown and hard to reach that we didn't get a chance to take photos. Some of the fields that we visited were bone dry and didn't have a single Sarracenia there (although L. catesbaeis were there!). I suspect these areas may have been drained a while back. The good news is we did find one very special patch of plants of almost pure S. alatas! This site is very well managed and will persist in the years to come since it's protected and hidden. Overview of the habitat: in the foreground, you might be able to spot some fringe orchids: Plants here were thriving: and dense, although the grass was starting to get pretty thick despite recent burning: Some neat red throat plants, reminds me of the red throated variants of S. alabamensis: A few hybrids were found, but no pure S. leucophylla were here. It's hard to say what existed decades ago because the surrounding area is surprisingly a dense city: Some of these hybrids were pretty neat: this one made me jealous, hehe: These plants were pretty unique: some had deep maroon throats, and they were pretty big too: Homies in situ. From L to R: Kate, Axel, and Damon: and last but not least, a cool lynx spider:
All of the sites I've seen in Covington Co, AL are seepage slope bogs: water from uphill slowly percolates into an open field, and the area that stays consistently saturated is filled with Sarracenia. After visiting countless sites, one major observation was made: S. flava var. rugelii seems to be more tolerant of water-logged habitat in comparison to S. leucophylla. Perhaps the yellow trumpet pitcher plant has a different root system by which it can tolerate slightly lower levels of oxygen, but who knows. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule: anytime you have moving water, even if it's really mucky and boggy, S. lecuophylla can grow there. With all that in mind,the first photo below is an overview of a population of mainly S. flava var. rugelii. In the foreground, there's a dried up creek filled with tulip trees...it's too bad we didn't get to see them in bloom because those flowers are amazing! In the background, you can see a dense population of yellow trumpet pitcher plants. There's 2-3 main seeps that feed this bog: And as you can see, this site is dominated by S. flava var. rugelii: Homies in situ. I suppose on the other side of the pond, one would call them "mates" in situ: And here you can see how the plants grow from the water source. What you can't really tell from the photo is that almost every plant here is gigantic: Some huge lids: Same trap with my hand to sort-of show scale. My hand isn't as fat as it used to be, haha: This spot is really beautiful, although it was hard to find because it occurs in the middle of a forest that doesn't seem like it would be conducive of this habitat: A few beauties, although they were past their prime: S. leucophylla was also at this site, although they hadn't yet produced fall pitchers: And a S. x moorei just popped open: This one had an alien eye: WE found the very rare S. flava var. maxima here, and I'll post pics shortly once they're uploaded.
While in Sarracenia territory, we happened to stumble upon a couple of pinguiculas in the wild. Butterworts weren't found at many sites, but when they were there, they grew in abundance. Interestingly enough, they could be found in areas that no sarracenia (has ever gone before, hehe) could ever survive because it was way too dry! Perhaps these Southern butterworts are somewhat like their mexican cousins in the sense that they produce relatively succulent leaves, which allow them to tolerate more drought-like conditions. Their compact growth and small surface area may also be the reason they can grow in these dry areas. We mostly saw Pingicula lutea in a lot of sites, and I was shocked to see many of these yellow flowered butterworts produced thin, pencil-like elongated leaves. unfortunately, I don't think I photographed any . Perhaps this is because the grass gets so tall by end of the summer that they have to find some way to get more light, or else they'll bite the dust. I had been dreaming of finding P. primuliflora before the trip (never seen it in situ before), and on the plane ride home, I lamented that we didn't see any....until we went over the photos and realized we did see them!!!! Sorry Fernando, if you're out there, we didn't mean to let you down with our crappy ping skills :) Anyhow, here are the photos! P. lutea in situ at the S. rubra wherryi roadside site in Washington Co, AL. Notice how just like the rubra wherryi's, the pings also survived being run over by a tractor...they're tough little gems: Closer shot of a single plant from the same site: medium was this really fine, silty clay with a pinch of well decomposed organic, peaty material mixed in: I think this is another roadside population in washington Co, AL: They loved to inhabit the open areas, and seemed to thrive in full sun: Brown chicken, brown cow!!! Yes, these are that hot (to me at least): These were huge P. lutea plants-just beautiful: I wasn't meant to be a photographer: Here's some growing at a site in okaloosa Co, FL: Drosera capillaris (?) is a common companion plant: Butterworts were worse to find than S. psittacina-this is what you're typically up against...can you find the P. lutea in this picture? Some of the P. luteas were pretty big: P. primuliflora was growing in the very wet, boggy areas. Okaloosa Co, FL: A closer shot-I'm double guessing myself, but I'm sorta sure these are primulifloras: One last shot: