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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!
There are perhaps only a handful or two of large populations of S. leucophylla left in the wild. The majority that still remain are either relic patches of a once giant field of plants, or volunteers in modified habitats (ie. man made drainage ditches). Many of the historically giant populations are now either destroyed, or if they haven't been touched whatsoever, they are now etiolated plants growing in thick, dense forests. Before people dominated the landscape and plowed or altered every square acre of land, fires would come in and burn up the forest, creating new habitats for Sarracenias to colonize. Today, those forest are mainly homes, structures, and farms where fire isn't permitted since it would damage people's property. It's surprising how short lived many of these sites are, especially during the more recent times. On the other hand, they're still there, and they've struggled to survive the face of human negligence. This site below only exists because a power company consistently clears the grasses every year or so to protect their electrical equipment. On the side of the road nearby, I had already seen signs of round-up (herbicide) use, and it's only a matter of time when they spray this field. One application of herbicide can ruin centuries of growth. If I had to bet, this site will be sprayed in the next few years once they realize the cost savings. As pessimistic as it may seem, this is the reality for many of these sites. We visited many historic sites that didn't have a single plant left due to annual herbicide applications. However, there are some remote sites like the one below that still exist today, so maybe...just maybe a few will stand the test of time. Enough doom and gloom talk, let's check out these beautiful fields! Here are some S. leucophylla in Washington Co, AL, photos taken 9/11/13. First couple of photos focus on the field itself-there were 3 large patches at this site: Plants here were as healthy as can be! There's nothing like a huge field of leucophyllas: There were also S. rubra wherryi and S. psittacina (and some giant psitts!) at this site as well, but the grass was really tall, and you could only see the leucos. Still very inspiring to see a patch this size, which is still relatively small compared to what used to exist: thousands of plants everywhere: Tons and tons of plants: Poor Axel Bostrom of California Carnivores stepped on a fire ant hill at this site, and the pain was so extreme, he had to go wait in the car. These hills were hidden deep in the grass, and were EVERYWHERE: More photos of individual plants coming soon. This site had some amazing diversity which we will explore in a little bit, so stay tuned!