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First off, for those of you not familiar with this variant, S. flava 'extreme red throat' is an unofficial, fictitious name to describe a plant that has more red in the throat than the average S. flava var. rugelii. Some would call this plant a rugelii, while others may call it an ornata. I think neither best describes these plants because some of the pitchers don't have veins, some are a bit reddish, and others are rather green. For those of you who want to see "the plant that started this whole thing" here's "the type specimen": http://sarracenia.proboards.com/thread/229/flava-killer-new-pics-added We suspect all of these extreme red throat variants are the result of hybridization and mixing with different species, and then back-crossing. what are the exact ingredients? Maybe a dash of S. flava var. rubricorpora, and a glug of rugelii, or maybe a selfed rubricorpora x rugelii that has a rubricorpora phenotype. Alternately, there may be a moorei here and there that has an extreme red thoat, and then it back-crosses with rugelii to create a "pure" looking plant with an extreme red throat. In the case of the Bay Co, FL plants, it's likely that these extreme red throated plants resulted from mixing with "regular" rugelii's. We did see some rubricorporas at this site that had very solid red throats, but the tricky thing is tracing nature backwards and trying to find out what crossed with what. Only in cultivation or with DNA tests can we find out exactly what's going on. There are a lot of interesting observations about this site that I will explain in detail in another post. For now, this post will focus on the extreme red throat variants. All photos were taken 8/23/14: If this isn't an extreme red throat, I don't know what is: The body on this one is almost pure red, and I wonder if it can turn solid red depending on environmental conditions. For this reason, I don't call this variant ornata: On the other hand, this one is definitely an ornata: Beautiful greenish body to contrast with the deep red: Love this one, even with the "battle wounds": This trap didn't want to cooperate: Some of them turned out "normal" in terms of the amount of red in the throat: Wanna-be extreme red throat: I think this new late summer trap came from a plant that had rubricorpora-colored pitchers on it. The waters are so muddy on nomenclature, but we can debate that in another post :) Deformed pitcher: Another "regular" rugelii, but not quite regular: Slightly out of focus, but this gives you an idea of what the whole plant looks like: And to end the post, a really cute little baby deer that didn't move even when we came really close to it. Believe me, after being shot at, I know exactly how that deer feels.
This post is actually from 2 separate sites in Bay Co, FL. The very first site contains S. leucophylla and S. flava var. rugelii as well, and the second site is pure S. psittacina. Unfortunately, both sites are the result of disturbed or altered land, so they are not the natural, pristine habitats that you see in many of the posts below. The good news is if no herbicide is ever sprayed, these plants will likely persist for a very long time. This very first site is kept in check by an easement where no building is allowed. The grass also seems to be mowed frequently. I found a gigantic S. psittacina growing in the shade at this site, but it was a bit dangerous to explore due to the "quicksand" nature of the bog so we ended up not going in deeper. It appeared that these plants originated from a former a nearby field (which is now a non-native pine plantation, surprise-surprise!) and the only plants that survived from the original site were the ones that "leaked" out via creeks and rain. Dried up creeks and ditches were lined with S. psittacina at this site, and they all led to the pine plantation-that's where everything stopped. tire tracks in the mud create ideal habitat for the parrot pitcher plant, and check out the Drosera filiformis: I think this may have been the giant plant, although it's hard to tell because there's no scale. I can only guess this is the giant plant because the photo was taken in the shade, and this site is mostly full sun: I love how round the heads are on these particular plants: We even found a S. x wrigleyana here, and some Utricularia in bloom: Most of the plants here were regular sized, and they formed perfect little rosettes: They were quite abundant: All photos below are from the second site, which has a very similar origin: this is at the edge of a pine plantation! The field was likely a Sarracenia savanna filled with amazing plants and then it was plowed and transformed into a non-native pine plantation. Only plants that survived were the ones that either spilled out of the field and lined this drainage ditch: On the sides of the ditch were some beautiful specimens: Notice how these plants look different than the plants at the first site: the heads aren't as round: Some nice colors here too: However, there were some round-headed S. psittacinas here too! What's weird is I've seen this same phenomenon in Okaloosa Co, FL where there are "regular" parrot pitcher plants and round headed varieties in the same field. What's also very note-worthy in this photo is check out the substrate: the plants are growing in this grit/sand mixture on the edge of a ditch filled with peat and muck: And last but not least, a S. psittacina flowering at the end of August! Heat stress is linked to anomalous flowering, and I've seen every species within the genus do this. Flower primordia is formed during the summertime, but plant hormones keep them from bolting out during the fall. Extreme heat "neutralizes" the inhibiting hormones:
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that one of the best S. flava var. rubricorpora populations in the world still exists today in Bay County, FL. Apparently, it does take a genius to explain to the State of Florida that destroying this remaining habitat and not having regulations to protect the remaining sites is beyond ridiculous, seeing how they've already demolished literally everything they possibly could. Bay County encompasses 1,033 sq miles (2,675 km²), and out of all of that land, maybe 10-20 acres of pristine habitat is left. Most of the remaining sites are relic patches of once vast fields of dreams. One can only imagine how many endless acres of fields filled with red flavas once existed. Everything that is left in the wild in Bay County is surrounded by altered terrain or is altered terrain. I visited a site in 2011 that was reported to have huge fields of Sarracenias and natural ponds containing giant floating S. psittacinas! Can you guess what this site looks like today? It looks like what 90% of Bay County looks like: endless rows of non-native pines grown for pulp production! No ponds, no savannas, no rare native plants, no sunshine, just thick, dark forests of planted trees as far as the eye can see. Unlike us CP enthusiasts, the majority of the general public sees nothing wrong with this: after all, they've "reforested America"! To add insult to injury, one of the last remaining sites is literally on it's last legs: the parcel right next to the red flava site, which is slightly uphill and is the water source for the delicate savanna, was recently harvested and cleared but fortunately, much of the soil was left undisturbed. Will they come in with tractors and till the soil to plant more trees? Will they dig ditches and destroy the water table? Keep in mind, many of these springs are extremely shallow. Even without laying a finger on the savanna, this site can be destroyed by altering the neighboring land. Well, the rest of the story has yet to be written, but there is hope that fields like these will keep going past our time. After all, this site still does exist as of 2014, and it's THRIVING! I'm grateful we live in a time when there's still pitcher plants in the wild, and it's a pleasure to share this with you all. Try to imagine the most amazing, giant, diverse red tubed plants you've ever seen, and that's what's here, in relatively large numbers. Also try to imagine 99F (37C) weather that felt like 110F (43C) and mosquitoes and other insects constantly biting you while you're drenched in sweat. Oh, and when you step on a little spot of dry land in the bog, it's infested with ants that bite with a painful sting (yes, I got bit!): When we visited, the field was very mucky and wet, so walking around was quite difficult. The insects trying to eat you alive wasn't any help either. Let me also mention that most other sites we visited in Florida this time of the year were bone dry and had a lot less biting insects! Every step, your foot goes down 2-3 ft (almost a meter deep). I ended up walking barefoot: I couldn't figure out if this site is being burned, but it didn't seem so. While the grasses were pretty thick in some areas, the field was so boggy and wet that not much else was colonizing the field. Anywhere else, this would be a thick forest within 2-3 years, things grow very fast in Florida: Each individual plant produced one or two pitchers, and not too many plants seemed to form clumps despite being well spaced and in full sun: Most of the plants here were red tubes, but some were extreme red throats. I didn't see any plants that resembled "pure" S. flava var. rugelii: Some more habitat shots: And now for some closer shots. Look at the character on these traps! Some of the lids stay yellow-green even after they age: Like this one too, and check out how big the lid is: Bright red body: Standard looking giant trap, hard to tell from the photo just how big these are: Some outstanding individuals: It's hard to capture the real color of these traps, but this picture is spot on. The light just happened to be perfect: One last look at the field as we exited. Wish I snapped more photos, but we were tired, hungry, bitten, dehydrated, and overheated, so it was time to go: After a long day of bogging, to relieve our bug bites and relax our bones, we went for a dip in the pool with some odd rules(item#7): Well, that's it for the story of the red tube site, hope you enjoyed it!
Several populations of "red flavas" exist in northwestern Florida: Liberty Co, Bay Co, Walton Co, Okaloosa Co, and Santa Rosa Co, FL (they probably are found in other counties as well). Flavas with red bodies and green lids are considered S. flava var. rubricorpora, whereas flavas with solid red bodies are considered S. flava var. atropurpurea. In Liberty Co and Bay Co, there are large populations of S. flava var. rubricorpora, but arguably, some consider individuals in these populations S. flava var. atropurpurea because at the time they were seen, the plant was solid red. Trouble is, in cultivation, amongst many different growers, it has been shown that many plants labeled "atropurpurea" start off with a green lid, and as the pitcher ages, the entire trap turns solid red. Are these rubricorporas, or are these atropurpureas? Interestingly enough, in Okaloosa Co, FL and Santa Rosa Co, FL, there are both plants that resemble S. flava var. rubricorpora and S. flava var. atropurpurea. The S. flava var. atropurpureas from these sites start off solid red. However, plants from these sites strongly resemble the rare S. flava var. atropurpurea found in the Carolinas. Do these "atropurpureas" from Okaloosa Co and Santa Rosa Co, FL occur naturally, or did someone plant them at these sites? In Santa Rosa Co, FL, Damon, Axel and I visited 2 different sites that were roughly 20 miles away from each other (ie.not within a reasonable distance to hybridize with each other) and we found red plants at both of these sites! Here's site #1 in santa Rosa Co, FL. This is an old pitcher from the summer, and the lid is still green, while the body is solid red. Arguably, this can be considered S. flava var. rubricorpora (although, genetically, I think this is plant is very different from the bay co and liberty co plants): Another shot: Close up of the lid: Same site, baby "S. flava var. rubricorpora" plant: Now, let's go 20 miles away to site #2, and here we have what appears to be S. flava var. atorpurpurea. Was the lid on this plant green before it turned solid red? I don't know, but my gut says no: Same plant, back view: This one seems to be back-crossed with S. flava var. rugelii: And at this same site, we found S. x catesbaei: notice the strong resemblance in color. Hmmmmmm: A group of S. flava var. "atropurpureas" with S. flava var. rugeliis: Now, let's take a tour of the famous site in Okaloosa Co, FL, where there's a very large S. flava var. atropurpurea population. Notice I'm using the word "atropurpurea" here with confidence: These plants have been verified to produce solid red lids on brand new pitchers. Here's a distant view of the largest population of S. flava var. atropurpureas in this area: Breath-taking beauty!