Irish Sarracenia purpurea and Darlingtonia californica Populations - Termonbarry

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In 1906 rootstock and seeds of Sarracenia purpurea ssp purpurea of Canadian origin were introduced to a raised bog just west of Termonbarry, Co. Roscommon, Ireland. Sarracenia flava were also introduced at the same time but these appear to have died out, only a single specimen being recorded in the 1930s and there are no recent records of it’s occurrence at the site. The Sarracenia purpurea thrived and the introduction grew to cover 35ha. This was reduced by turf cutting and now it occupies about 10ha, an area which seems to have been stable since the early 1990s. Plants from Termonbarry were subsequently introduced to a number of other sites in Ireland, most notably Woodfield Bog and Coolatoor in Co. Westmeath and Moud’s Bog in Co. Kildare where extensive populations covering areas in excess of 1 ha are now extant. An interesting article on the genetics of these poulations which also gives a good potted history of the introductions can be found here:

In addition Darlingtonia californica has been introduced to Woodfield Bog at some time over the past 20 years, it has certainly been recorded from this site for at least a decade. Over the past month my work took me across the Irish midlands on a number of occasions and I was able to arrange my travel plans to make short detours to visit Termonbarry and Woodfield Bog. I hope to visit Coolatoor and Mouds Bog later during the course of the year.


A friend from the Botany Department of Trinity College Dublin gave me rough directions to the site but he did stress that it was nearly twenty years since he had been there and his recollection was rather imprecise! Thankfully finding it didn’t prove too difficult though it was rather complicated by the fact that the road which appeared to bring you from the main N5 Dublin to Westport road to the bog, the 2nd left after coming out of the town of Termonbarry heading west was blocked as a bridge crossing a tributary of the Shannon was unsafe. Undeterred I tried the next left and wound up in the front yard of a farm where a very helpful gentleman was able to put me on the right track to the Bord na Mona peat cutting works. Once there the workers were able to point me towards the right area of uncut bog where the Sarracenia purpurea were located. Their descriptions of the plants feeding habits were a little wide of the mark however (they open during the day to feed and close up at night apparently!). The area can be viewed on google earth, around a townland called Cloondara, the plants being located on an area of bog centred on 53 degrees 43.450 minutes North, 7 degrees 57.450 minutes West. The area of uncut bog hasn’t changed since 1995 and you can check this out using the Ordnance Survey of Ireland map viewer in their online shop ( Here you can locate an area using a conventional map and then zoom in and view it using orthographic aerial photos. You can see how it evolves by toggling between the 1995, 2000 and 2005 photos. Unfortunately the X and Y coordinates are in UTM and not easily recognisable on a map, that’s why I’m giving Lats and Longs for google earth so you can get an idea of where to look and then you can easily locate it on the OSI ortho views which are better quality in this instance. If you want to do it directly they are X 602577, Y 774922. On the ortho imagery there is a clearly defined overgrown drain running southwest to northeast and it is along this that the main concentrations of plants can be found. On my visit the plants were just beginning to flower (I visited on the 2nd of June 2010) and a number of fairly distinct colour morphs were evident. The all red variety were most common with the far more uncommon ‘veinless’ form marking the other extreme. The pitchers of this form go a beautiful golden yellow with age, the young pitchers looking for all the world like the form heterophylla. These made up less than 5% of the plants at the site. In between the two extremes there was a fairly continuous cline of forms, some matching Stewart McPherson’ description of ‘semi veinless’ when they had lighter colouration.

The western area of cut bog 672Termonbarry_000_low.jpg

Looking towards the uncut area where the Sarracenia is now located 151Termonbarry_002_low.jpg

Up onto the uncut area, quite scrubby near the cut edge 237Termonbarry_006_low.jpg

The first Sarracenia I encountered as I walked east, a ‘veinless’ form 528Termonbarry_011_low.jpg

Followed by a ‘semi veinless’ form (possibly shade was a bit of an issue for this plant as it was surrounded by scrub), the flowers were just beginning to open 617Termonbarry_013_low.jpg

The start of the main concentration of plants at the overgrown drain, they seem to favour these spots as they are wetter 234Termonbarry_018_low.jpg

A very bright yellow and red form 519Termonbarry_019_low.jpg

East of the drain big clumps were very numerous 658Termonbarry_021_low.jpg

Contrasting forms – the more common red and the brighter ‘semi veinless’, flowers have yet to open 834Termonbarry_026_low.jpg

A close up of the ‘semi veinless’ form 350Termonbarry_030_low.jpg

Another ‘semi veinless’ with rather closed hoods 736Termonbarry_034_low.jpg

Seedlings were very common, particularly on the Sphagnum hummocks 132Termonbarry_036_low.jpg

One of the more common red forms 227Termonbarry_040_low.jpg

Spot the ‘veinless’ plant! 999Termonbarry_042_low.jpg

A curious web construct covering a cut away pitcher 248Termonbarry_050_low.jpg

A very cooperative young frog, one of many 193Termonbarry_054_low.jpg

Next - Woodfield Bog


Edited by fishycps
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Hey fishy, I'd love to see your photos, but they're so mahoooosive that they cause my computer to hang up when I try to load them. It's taken 20 minutes on my 20Mb broadband to get to the stage of being able to write in this box...

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Apologies to all whose computers froze due to excessive size of the images I included in the post. I have now resized them to something more accessible and also included a link to an interesting article on the genetics of the Irish populations which also give a good potted history.

Cheers, Ian

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I'm afraid so. This particular bog is regarded as too degraded to be worth conserving. Turf cutting which had continued under a derogation on 31 bogs designated as SACs was ordered to cease only last week and a further 100 will similarly have turf cutting and drainage cease between the end of 2011 and 2013. More details can be found here:

Hope that clarifies things.


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I'm afraid so. This particular bog is regarded as too degraded to be worth conserving. Turf cutting which had continued under a derogation on 31 bogs designated as SACs was ordered to cease only last week and a further 100 will similarly have turf cutting and drainage cease between the end of 2011 and 2013. More details can be found here:

Hope that clarifies things.


To degradeed for conservation? Well we have the Bargerveen here in The Netherlands wich has been degreaded from peatdugging in the past. Now its a protected area and they have restored the waterregime. I gues the government uses the word degraded as an ecscuse for continuing peatdigging. If I look at the pictures that Irish bog is much less degraded then the Bargerveen!

In Westen Europe there is so little of peatbogs left that every bog should be protected! Even if its degrade with the right messures it can be restored in some way. But it will take a long time, but always better then total destruction!


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  • 3 weeks later...

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