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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:

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Plants here were as healthy as can be!

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There's nothing like a huge field of leucophyllas:

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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:

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thousands of plants everywhere:

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Tons and tons of plants:

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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:

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More photos of individual plants coming soon. This site had some amazing diversity which we will explore in a little bit, so stay tuned!

Edited by meizwang
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Silly question perhaps but why are these sites not protected? If this was the UK then the most important sites for an endangered species like this would have a legal designation which protects against development and also requires active management.

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Even if no legislation is in place to protect the plants or habitat, maybe someone could lobby the landowner? Perhaps they're just ignorant of the importance of the site, and would be willing to help out once they knew the facts. Optimistic perhaps, but worth a shot?

And if appealing to their better nature didn't work, perhaps they could be convinced of the possibility of making PR mileage from protecting the environment, etc.

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GardenofEden-I know, I too am shocked that these sites remain vulnerable to extinction, especially in the US. The mindset in the Deep South is a lot different from California, for example. I see parking lots that are acres in size, and stop light intersections that are half the size of a football stadium. On the other hand, In California, there are so many hoops to jump through before anything is built. Roads are reasonable in size, and parking lots are also space efficient. We force land owners to restore/preserve natural environments should there be a threatened or endangered species that lives there. We have easements on properties that protect sensitive habitats as well. Such easements are apparently less common in the deep south.

Under US law, these plants are only Federally protected when they are considered endangered. Until then, they are vulnerable. While I may not agree with a few of the new names that Stew and Don Schnell have recently published, the positive effect outweighs any academic controversy: many variants that were otherwise not protected can now be protected under federal law.

When I think of the Deep South, it reminds me of the rainforests in South America. As a whole, people down there aren't thinking about how to protect a population of rare plants and habitats; they're more concerned about how they're going to put food on the table every day. It's almost like a third world country in Alabama-they are extremely impoverished, especially in the outskirts where many Sarracenia populations exist.

It's also cultural. In the deep south, people don't like to be told what they can do or can't do on their property. However, under most circumstances, the government, utility companies, and residents have no clue that these plants exist in their backyards, and it doesn't register to them that they are in need of protection. They've seen a few fields here and there...what's the harm of destroying one? As Numpty points out, it seems education is one of the keys to preserving these populations, but that takes time that these sites don't have.

My hands are tied: I'm a horticulturalist, and you know the negative reputation we have when it comes to conservation...unfortunately, I have to bite my teeth on this one until the day that conservationists realize they need horticulturalists to succeed in preserving many of these sites...seems like we also have to educate the educated as well, which in my mind, is a far daunting task! Most don't have the guts to even talk about it, but I believe by writing on these forums, and educating other CP enthusiasts, it will force many to rethink their previous beliefs.

Edited by meizwang

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Some close up photos from the population above:

nice typical S. leucophylla with a lynx spider. Notice the beautiful red lips!

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S. leucophylla var. alba with a small lynx spider:

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This field was loaded with a diverse amount of S. leucophylla var. albas:

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S. leucophylla var. alba-this one has a little more green in it. Notice the brown marks on the lower portion of the petiole: the traps were overloaded with love bugs, causing "indigestion":

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Another beautiful clone of a "regular" S. leucophylla-this one has nice red veins:

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S. leucophylla, almost an alba, but not quite:

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another shot-reminds me of a wanna-be Hurricane creek white:

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Check out the slight red blush on the sides of the "throat" on this one. If you look carefully, there's a small spider hidden in the lid of the trap:

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Trap is just starting to open up on this one:

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A regular S. leucophylla, and a var. alba in the lower right hand corner:

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A strange greenish clone just opening up. I forgot to mention that S. alata was found here, but only a plant here and there. This is likely the result of crossing with alata and back-crossing with leucophylla:

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Another one:

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Now this is what I was looking for-a really nice S. leucophylla var. alba:

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Edited by meizwang

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some more photos!

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This one has a really round mouth. In santa rosa Co, FL, there are a lot of leucos with round mouths like these, but you can tell they were historically crossed with S. flava rugelii. In Washington Co, AL, there aren't any flavas, even historically, which makes you wonder how this came about:

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Something tells me this has a little pinch of rubra wherryi in its distant ancestry:

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These froggies were so cooperative, probably because they think we can't see them:

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Do you see the spider in the lid, ready to attack?

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This one reminds me of a person with a flat-top:

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Hurricane creek white (HCW) in cultivation does something like this during the winter: as the trap gets really old and is about to die, it forms pinkish spots all over the place. This trait seems to be dominant on the clone pictured below. It was very hot, and the nights were warm as well, so on this individual, it's not triggered by cool temperatures like HCW:

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There were so many white clones in this population:

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In the areas that aren't cleared by humans or nature, the field is slowly turning into a forest. This is the very early stages, and plants here are still getting sufficient light. Notice how thick it is getting in the background. If I had to guess, it probably still has maybe 5 years or so before the plants are fully shaded:

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Here's another example:

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One last shot of plants growing in a "future forest":

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Check out the weird lid on the trap to the left, back:

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wide "necks" or "throats":

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I'm still amazed at how much variation is at this site. It's slight, but you can tell each individual is different:

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Edited by meizwang
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Wow!

I'm so impressed by these kinds of pictures! Thanks for sharing, maybe this could help someone to take the decision to protect such places.

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Beautiful! Leucos are mesmerizing to look at!

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Absolutely stunning! Thanks for sharing.

Ian.

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