Saturday, September 25, was a beautiful day and we, my wife, my oldest daughter who was home for the weekend, my youngest son, and myself decided we would travel down to Summer Lake in Skagit County, about an hour south and to see how the carnivorous plants there were doing.
I've written about these plants in a previous post after we visited the lake last year: http://ronaldhanko-orchidhunter.blogspot.com/2010/06/little-bog-of-horrors.html. Many of the carnivorous plants there have been introduced, though no one seems to know when or why.
Summer Lake is a small lake, very isolated, and used mostly by fishermen. It is surrounded nearly all the way by a floating bog, also known as a muskeg or quaking bog. The bog is safe to walk on, though one must be careful of holes, be willing to get wet feet, and in this case the floating mat is quite difficult to access.
We followed a path down from the road to the edge of the water and tip-toed across a series of floating boards and sunken logs, with water on some sides that was too deep to feel the bottom. The water was considerably higher than last year when we visited, due no doubt to recent rains.
Once on the bog we found not only the plants we were looking for but the bog cranberries in fruit, and once again I ate enough to give myself a stomach ache. We found a lot of mushrooms as well, some Fringed Grass of Parnassus and some Cotton Grass, but the carnivorous plants were the main attraction.
We found the same species growing there as last year, three varieties of pitcher plant, the Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), the White Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) and the Yellow Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia flava). We found only about a dozen pitchers of the White, but the others were abundant.
We also found a number of clumps of Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), those these did not seem as abundant as last year, and we found the Round-leaf Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), native to Washington and probably not introduced here. The latter was everywhere.
It is often the case that spiders are found on the pitchers of the Sarracenia plants. They seem to know that these plants are visited by insects and that a free lunch is available. We found a number of spiders on the pitchers and were able to get some photos, too.
In one case a white crab spider with red markings that match the red and white of the pitcher plant was feeding on a moth in the shade of the pitcher plant's lid. Later it dropped the moth either out of fear of us or because it was finished dining.
We explore the east, south , southwest and north sides of the bog, the north end accessible by a different and easier trail. We had hoped to find the Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica) there on the north end, but it was nowhere evident, though it had been reported from the area previously.
It is a bit strange that the Cobra Lily, which is native to the west coast including parts of Washington and Oregon, does not seem to flourish there, while species from much more southern climates like the Venus Flytraps and the Pitcher Plants do.
After exploring for several hours and taking all the pictures we wanted, we headed home, stopping on the way for some fresh peaches, freshly pressed apple cider, sweet corn and new potatoes, all of which we enjoyed for our supper a little later in the evening.
Note: eight of these pictures (most of the best ones) were taken by my wife.