JUNE 14th, 2005 - Weeks Bay / Western Baldwin County Alabama
Here's a shot of part of the bog at Weeks Bay. Weeks Bay is located next to the Fish River in Western Baldwin County in Alabama. It is one of the easternmost locations for S. alata.
Baldwin County has always been a little mysterious as far as Sarracenias are concerned. Just 10 miles to the west from here, across Mobile Bay into Mobile County, S. alata is (was) extremely abundant. But its distribution in Baldwin County is extremely spotty. Unusual is that there seemed to be (at one time) plenty of habitat that would seem suitable to S. alata in Baldwin County, and similar to sites in Mobile County. But Baldwin County is the epicenter for S. leucophylla, and none of the other upright Sarracenias ever seemed to be able to grasp a decent foothold in this area. If you simply cross the Florida State line across from eastern Baldwin County, the S. flava stands were once extremely dense, yet S. flava never appeared to get much of a foothold in Baldwin County either. And there's plenty of habitat that appears to closely match S. flava habitats in the Florida panhandle.
Unlike the other upright Sarracenia's, S. leucophylla grows in abundance in Baldwin County. Although its locations are dwindling, it can still be very abundant in some of its locations, and at one time, simply dominated the Baldwin County landscapes. The likely reason that S.alata and S. flava never penetrated Baldwin County to much of a degree is probably due to S. leucophylla absorbing these species by aggressively hybridizing them out of existance. Hybrid swarms between S. alata and S. lecophylla are intense in the buffer zone of Mobile County, where both species are abundant, and between S. flava and S. leucophylla in western Florida, where boTh species are also abundant. But in Baldwin County, S. leucophylla is (was) extremely abundant. Even if several plants of S. flava or S. alata found suitable habitat in the area, the sheer number of flowering S. leucophyllas made it practically impossible that pollen from one of these other species found a female of the same plant, before the female parts had been pollinated by pollen from S. leucophylla. It probably didnt help the cause that S. leucophylla flowers are much taller than these other two species, as a flying pollinator may have been likely to visit an S. leucophylla flower before one of the other shorter flowered species.
Unlike S. alata and S. flava, you are not likely to find hybrid swarms of S. leucophylla with S. rosea and S. psittacina. Hybrids between S. leucohpylla and S. rosea are common where the two grow together, but you arent likely to find massive swarming. Hybrids with S. leucophylla and S. psittacina are somewhat rare, especially mature plants. It appears that this hybrid is unable to compete very well in the habitats where its two parents grow. A very slight difference in flowering time is probably what allows S. rosea and S. psittacina to be able to reproduce themselves within the massive stands of S. leucophylla. And in Baldwin County, S. leucophylla has a major advantage in numbers. For example, the area near Weeks Bay, S. leucoPHylla probably out numbers S. alata by several thousands to one. The odds that a pollinator finds an S. alata flower first is not good. There are just too many S. leucophyllas that it will likely encounter first, and in the event of a flying pollinator, the much taller S. leucophylla flowers likely make it a statistical anomaly that a pollinator gets to a S. alata first, or that S. alata pollen will be then pollen which fertilizes an S. alata female flower.
Anyways, here some photos from Weeks Bay. Sorry for the quality, but it was extremely windy, causing the pitchers to move wildly and be difficult to shoot. In the event of the sundew shots, the grasses were moving causing problems with some of the shots as well.
Tomorrow, I will either go to another location in Eastern Baldwin County and the Florida Panhandle, or to northern Baldwin County. It depends on the weather, and how soon I wake up.
By the way, the temperatures are quite hot down here right now. With all the moisture that tropical storm Arlene dropped on the area, I feel like I'm living in a bamboo steamer. But Arlene did one thing that I appreciate: The biting bugs, flys, and mosquitos were swept out of the area. I can put up with the heat as long as I'm not getting assaulted by biting insects.
One last thing before we move on; This is my first visit to this area since Hurricane Ivan hit the area last year. A lot of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and the adjacent Florida areas were hit really hard. There's still a lot of cleanup going on. I traveled through the Roscoe Swamp today on my way back from Weeks Bay, and theres' a lot of trees which are growing at a 45 degree angle, blown that way due to the very heavy winds.