In early October of last year I went on a field trip with a small group from the Washington Native Plant Society. I had seen the trip advertised on their website and had asked if I could accompany them, even though I was not a member of the WNPS. They very kindly invited me along.
The field trip was advertised under the same name as this blog entry, "Little Bog of Horrors," and promised a visit to a floating bog where non-native carnivorous plants had been introduced and were flourishing (non-native, that is, to the state of Washington).
The field trip took place on a Saturday and took us to a small lake about an hour south of our home where we found five species of carnivorous plants growing. We looked for a sixth, the Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica) but did not find it.
The trip was everything it promised to be and more. After finding a place to park near the lake we made our way to the edge of the floating bog that almost completely surrounds the lake and balancing precariously on half-sunken logs and a few floating planks, made our way out onto the floating mat of vegetation.
I had never seen a floating bog before and it was amazing to see that this floating mat easily supported our weight and allowed us to explore right up to the edges of the mat. One did have to be careful for holes and places the mat did not reach, and most of us, even those with high boots, ended up with wet feet.
We found a lot of different plants growing on the mat, including many sedges, the Western Bog Laurel (Kalmia microphylla),which was in bloom, and the Bog Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), whose fruits were just ripening. In fact, I ate enough of the cranberries in the course of the day to give myself a stomach ache.
We explored the east side of the lake first and found three species of carnivorous plants there,and then followed the mat around the south end of the lake to the west side where we found two more species. Later on we explored the northern end of the lake from a different route, looking for the Cobra Lily, but did not find it.
On the same side of the lake we found a number of clumps of the Yellow Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia flava,and these were in bloom, their strange flowers standing among the pitchers. We could see large clumps of these on the other side of the lake as well.
This plant varied a great deal in color, from a bright yellow to a dull brown. In some cases the pitchers had fallen over but in most cases they were standing tall, the largest being nearly three feet in height.
My son, who was along, had a small point and shoot camera and was able to take some pictures of the insects that were floating in the pitchers. One of his photos has since been published in the March-April issue of the Mexican conservation journal, Especies, in an article on carnivorous plants.
Also on the east side we found the Roundleaf Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). These tiny plants were everywhere, but were hard to see because they are so small. This is actually a native species, but may have been introduced in this location. One had to get wet to get down far enough to take pictures of these delightful plants.
Making our way around the south end of the lake we continued to see clumps of the Yellow Pitcher Plant, and on the southwest end of the lake found it everywhere, growing, like the Purple Pitcher Plant, in large clumps.
On that same end of the lake we found two new species, one of which was the well-known Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). These, too, had finished blooming sometime before, but many of the traps had insects in them. They were not as abundant as the Pitcher Plants, but the clumps we found were very large, some of them with hundreds of traps.
Nearby we found several individual pitchers of the White Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia leucophylla. There were not more than half a dozen of these and they seemed less securely established than the other species of Sarracenia. They also varied considerably in color, the deep maroon veining being much heavier on some plants than on others.
No one seems to know who introduced these species and why. No one even seems to be sure how long they've been there. Nor, it seems, does anyone quite know what to do about them. Apparently the DNR has discussed the possibility of trying to eradicate them, though I think this would probably be quite difficult in the case of Yellow and Purple Pitcher Plants, which are very well established.
Since then my son and I have made several trips back for photographs and in the hope that we would find some of the other species in bloom. We hope to go again later this summer when the Venus Flytrap and the Purple Pitcher Plant are blooming, but the last trip we made this spring found the water in the lake very high and made the effort to get out on the floating mat a real balancing act.