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CONSERVATION INFO
It is unfortunate, but many carnivorous plant species are also severely threatened in the wild, whether they grow in the United States or elsewhere in the world. Some CP are amongst the most endangered plant species on Earth.

In the US, many of the Sarracenia species are endangered. S. oreophila has always been known to exist in very limited numbers in the wild. It gained protection status early on, although that protection status did little to protect the plants from getting poached, nor did it keep land owners from converting an S. oreophila bog into a farm pond. (One of the largest factors of declining S. oreophila sites was due to its habitat being converted for agricultural uses.) Fire suppression also caused the number of plants at the remaining sites to dwindle.

There has been a much better effort of late to conserve these plants and their habitats by many groups, including the private land owners. Although one of the best S. oreophila sites is owned by the Nature Conservancy, one of the best future sites I have seen is still on private land. But the land owners allow the site to be maintained by the Nature Conservancy, which includes burning the area on a regular basis. This is now one of the best S. oreophila sites remaining, and has a large area for the plants to expand into. It will be a very nice showcase for the plants in a few years.

Another reason for conserving S. oreophila sites is that they are also habitats for other endangered plant and animal species.

S. alabamensis was in far greater peril than S. oreophila. One issue was that the plant was described in the 1970's, and then combined again with S. rubra by Schnell shortly thereafter. The area of central Alabama where it grows had seen extreme fire suppression, which is vitally important to where this plant grows. So the plant got a late start at being described, and combined with decades of fire suppression, caused the number of wild plants to be in alarmingly short supply.

The high elevation relic bogs of S. oreophila and the seepage bogs of S. alabamensis are located in the State of Alabama. S. oreophila also has locations in Georgia, NC, and a possible former site in TN. But the abundance of S. oreophila, and all S. alabamensis, are located in the State of Alabama. Alabama is really the epicenter for Sarracenia. Practically every species can (could) be found in Alabama with the exception of S. jonesii and S. minor. As if The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups did not have its hands full already with endangered Sarracenia, S. leucophylla has seen its numbers drop dramatically in recent years. S. leucophylla historically had a somewhat restricted range, with the vast majority of plants being located in Alabama. With this species practically becoming extinct in Georgia, and the Florida stands being wiped out by development and tree farms, plus the leaves being harvested by the floral trade over the past decade or so, it was important that locations in Alabama be secured.

I am very pleased to see that habitats in the State of Alabama have been procured by the State, the Nature Conservancy, and other conservation groups. Several locations for S. alabamensis and S. oreophila have been procured, and others which remain on private lands are also cared for by the land owners and TNC. There also seems to be a proactive procurement for S. leucophylla sites in Southern Alabama. Because of the proactiveness, an area in Northern Baldwin County has, and is continually, being procured in large sections. It's a lot easier, and less expensive, to procure these tracts now, rather than to wait for developers to be building neighborhoods adjacent to them.

This is exactly what happened at the Tarkiln Bayou in Florida. Although sections of the bayou have been procured, some of the area still has not, and it has been a VERY expensive proposition.  

 

 

soreo.jpg (50521 bytes)<<Here I am (Michael Catalani) lounging among S. oreophila in Alabama, USA. One of only a very few S. oreophila sites left in the wild, this particular location is unique in that S. oreophila is the predominant plant species at the site. Photo by Kristi Cleveland. Pay no attention to my failing hair-do! The humidity at a Sarracenia bog can be excessive.

Another unique aspect of this site is its location. It is highly accessable, being located inside a substantial city in Alabama. It is also highly protected, with watchful eyes living within yards of the location of this picture. Because the site is not well known to poachers (although it is very well known to conservationists) and because the site is surrounded by watchful eyes and much traffic, poaching has not been detected at this site. The lesson here is that poachers aren't good at finding plant locations by driving around looking for them, they rely upon exact location information from others to tell them where the plants are. Note: there are two types of poachers; those that rip plants out of the wild for profit, and those that rip plants out of the wild for their own use. S. oreophila, and especially S. alabamensis, can have most of the remaining wild plants removed in an afternoon by a poacher if they knew where the final decent stands of plants were located.

 

 

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The common name for S. oreophila is the green mountain pitcher plant, and indeed, this plant loves the nosebleed altitude! Its habitats lie above 1000 feet in elevation. A report of S. oreophila growing at an elevation of a few hundred feet near Elmore, Alabama, was probably a case of mistaken identity. S. alabamensis used to grow near the location; in fact the initial collection of S. alabamensis was made close to the area. 

The picture to the right shows a waterfall with rhododendrons just coming into bloom. S. oreophila used to grow here, to the left of where I was standing to take this picture. But the construction of a manmade spillway and boat ramp (just out of the picture to the left) destroyed the site. This picture gives you a little insight into where S. oreophila could be found, which are some of the most scenic views found on Earth. I have been fortunate to visit 4 site location for S. oreophila. Sadly, I have visited as many former sites for the plant. I spent quite a lot of time scouring the areas of Sand and Lookout mountains in Alabama searching for sites for this plant. One thing I must say is that even if I came up empty handed after hours of searching, I could always sit and relax in the spray zone of a waterfall for a few minutes. (Which is much much better than searching for new S. flava sites, where the only place to sit and rest is in the middle of muck while being assaulted by enormous biting flies.)

Update June, 2005
I will soon post the entire catalog of photos from my field trips to see S. oreophila.

 

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Above: S. alabamensis in Autauga county, Alabama. This was taken in April, 2002. The plants were just in petal, and they can be seen growing with their companion plant, the Cinnamon Fern. It's at this point that some folks confuse this plant with S. rubra. In the past, S. alabamensis has been confused in the wild with S.alata, S. jonesii, and S. oreophila.

Update June, 2005
I will also be posting the entire catalog of S. alabamensis field trip photos in just a few weeks.