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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!


Edited by meizwang

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Hi Mike,


Nice photos again. Do you know if enough variable genetic material has been saved from this area so we don't lose it all? Unfortunately, I don't think it'll be long before the rest is bulldozed :cray: We have designated "Sites of Special Scientific Interest" over here, do you have something similar in the US?

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Thanks Linuxman, and great questions. I believe Atlanta Botanical Gardens will or does have a good genetic sample of this site so that all will not be lost in the future. I'm also pretty optimistic that the harvesting of the neighboring parcel will not affect this field because the neighboring field was planted many years ago and clearly had no ill effects to the remaining habitat. Fingers crossed!

I'm also pretty certain that there are 2 or 3 more fields like this, if not larger, that still exist and hopefully, with the help of the government, we will have the opportunity to explore these sites. Getting permission to visit these parcels is very tricky, and you can be legally shot if you don't have permission to go there.

Every state in the US is different. If this bog was in California, there would be an easement preventing development and agricultural use of this site and the neighboring property would not be allowed to alter their land. This site would be very well protected. In Florida, these sites can be bulldozed overnight or in the blink of an eye! The nature conservancy identifies properties like these and tries to buy them so that they are preserved forever, but they aren't automatically protected. You also have to think about the owners: the second a restriction is placed on the property, the value goes down. This could be someone's retirement plan. It's important to meet the needs of both parties in order to save these sites instead of trying to save the plants and leave the owners in the dust. That will cause others to quitly destroy any bogs that still remain (this is exactly what happened to S. oreophila when it was registered as an endangered species in the 1970's!)

Edited by meizwang
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