Friday, September 21, 2012

Carnivorous Plants at Summer Lake


On Saturday, September 1, my wife and I made our annual pilgrimage to Summer Lake in Skagit County and to a muskeg or floating bog on the lake to see the Pitcher Plants and other carnivorous plants that have been naturalized there.  I wrote in a previous post that no one seems to know when and how these plants were first put there, but several species have become well established, though it appeared to us that someone had removed them from the north end of the lake.


When we first heard of this place, we were told that there were five non-native species of carnivorous plants to be found.  On our first visit we found only four, the Purple, White and Yellow Pitcher Plants and the Venus Fly Traps,  We did not find the Cobra Lily and have not found it on any visit since.  On this most recent visit, the White Pitcher Plant seems to have disappeared as well, but that is not a surprise since we only ever found a few of them, and fewer every year.















Sometimes it's double jeopardy for the insects, since many of the pitchers have spiders lurking around and inside of them, but escaping the spiders only means a long fall down tot he bottom of the tube, death by drowning and then digestion by the juices the plant secretes in the water.  We did not see a lot of insects, though, perhaps because of the long dry spell we've experienced.  Both of the following photos are attempts to take photos down the tubes of the Yellow Pitchers.



The other two Pitcher Plants we found again all around the east and south sides of the lake, the yellow especially on the south side and the Purple mostly on the east side.  The Venus Fly Traps we found only on the southwest side, but they appeared to be better established than ever before.  In addition to these three non natives the Round-leaved Sundew, with its tiny pads of glistening hairs, can also be found growing in abundance, this also especially on the east side.





Both the Purple and Yellow Pitcher Plants were in flower, the first time we had seen the flowers of the Purple, which blooms a bit earlier than the yellow, but we were earlier this year than we usually are and were delighted to see these odd blooms.  The Venus Fly Traps  and the Sundews were finished flowering, but only just, and we will have to go to see them in flower some other time.  The Venus Fly-traps have white flowers and the Sundews pink flowers.





It should be noted that the lake is very isolated and that there is little chance of these plants spreading to other areas.  The floating bog, however, is something rare and unique with many unique native plants growing on it, and if threatened by these plants, which does not appear to be the case, should be rid of these non-natives in spite of their attractiveness.  We noticed, too, that for the first time efforts are being made to protect this place, especially on the north side of the lake.

10 comments:

  1. So was the island shifted over to the west side of the lake?

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    1. It was on the south end of the lake just as you begin to go around the bottom of the lake.

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  2. I did not know you had the Venus flytrap in Washington. With all the non-native carnivorous species you must feel like being in North Carolina. Some of those plants actually live on my balcony. :-)
    Really nice photos. Great light too. In a bog like this I would expect the elusive Hammarbya paludosa. Not sure it grows in your area tho.

    I am really enjoying this blog. Keep it up.

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    1. Martin, the Venus Flytrap is not native to Washington at all. It's far away from its native home here - belongs in the Carolinas as you note. The only native carnivores we have are a Sundew and a Butterwort, both very common locally.

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  3. Hi Ron,

    This is such an appropriate post with Halloween coming up.

    I loved the blooms of the “Purple and Yellow Pitcher Plants” –they look like chandeliers parts--—crystal beads, chains, prisms---but upright ones! They are so glass-like and shivery!

    I am getting fond of these carnivorous plants that you showcase.

    The Pitcher plants are very vase-like and I can imagine a heavenly glass-blower meditating fiercely before he “blows” out the tissues and stems of these dreams.
    And imagine the ingenuity of DNA –so that it rehearses both the slope and slide to the bottom –starting at the slippery mouth of each vase –down to the pool of death at the bottom where another horror awaits as the enzymes cleanly use each part of the victim. If only man would be as clever, frugal and careful with resources!

    The wavy “landing pads” of the Pitcher plants seem like fun places where insects could sun and swap gossip. Then, rested, they decide to take a walk and voila! Death awaits unexpectedly (as it so often does) as they go about, minding their own business. You gotta love the incredible intelligence of nature –that understands that no opportunity for variation --- is to be missed.

    The veining of red on the green pitcher plants is also so neat—rather like the veins on a hand –that start to rib out and protrude as we age. The striations on that skin surface is far prettier than the blue spider web on my hand though!

    The grouping of the plants seems so family like that I feel that they are tribal plants—that understand the value of having many generations about. I see children and grandparents all in one cluster. Very heartwarming.

    Yes, I’m getting fond of these little beasties. Even the snappy jaws of the Venus Fly Traps seem rather like castanets than death traps!

    Julie

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    1. Hi Julie,
      I had an older post from this place that I put up on Halloween and titled "Little Bog of Horrors." I, too, am fascinated by them - by the almost human-like veins, by the weird shapes, by their ability to trap and digest insects - everything about them fascinates me. And, I didn't mention that the insides of these pitchers are covered with hairs that point downwards and that keep the insects from crawling back out. They are beautiful, but their beauty has a certain "creepiness" to it. Thanks for looking and commenting. Your comments are always fun to read.

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  4. I'm jealous, I went there today but didn't know it was so swampy, and i didnt have the right shoes. I'm going to have to bring waders! I am determined to see these plants!

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    1. Hope you get there to see these at close range. If I had known you were going I could have given you some tips, i.e., bring a hiking pole and be careful! Did you learn about the place from my blog or did you know about it before you saw this?

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  5. Tried commenting before but not sure if it went through- I'm thinking of going over there to see the plants- is a there a certain area that is best for viewing?

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    1. I don't remember a comment from you, but glad you got through this time. The plants are on the east and south sides of the lake but the difficulty is getting out to the floating bog. You would certainly need boots and probably waders and it would be better if you knew where to cross to the floating bog (about midway down the road on the east side of the lake on a bunch of floating boards and sunken logs. We will be going there some time in the near future if you'd like to meet us there and let us show you around.

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