After some college courses in botany, with the traditional views that natural hybrids are very rare in nature, I went out to visit some stands of Sarracenia near the Mobile Alabama vicinity, and was warned that some sites had so many natural hybrids involving S. leucophylla and S. alata (mostly, as these populations overlapped) that finding a true species of either could be quite difficult.
When I visited these sites, indeed, I noticed many natural hybrids, but also noticed several other species such as S. purpurea, (or hybrids involving this species even though the plants were not immediately present or visible), S. psitt, and even S. rubra; further east, some sites had S. minor as well. Several sites in the Fla. panhandle, near Eglin Air Force Base, specifically near Yellow River, were the worst, involving several forms of S. rubra, and even S. flava as well as the others.
Normally, these plants will flower at separate times with a week or two between, and also occupy different parts of the sites, some wetter, and some more in drier and shaded areas so that they had some physical separation within the same meadow.
I collected a few (snapped off bits of multiple growth point rhizomes) plants that I felt fairly convinced were pure species; S. leuco's that were pure paper white on all pitchers, large hairs under the lids, and well undulated lids, and of S. alata that had no signs of aereoles, smooth lids, and all. The various hybrids had cream colored spots on them and some undulation in the lids. I also managed to find a few seed pods that still were unopened, and brought them back as well.
Some hybrids seem undecipherable, with signs of all the species within the site.
After a winter dormancy, every plant from that area turned out to produce cream colored pitchers, with undulated lids and some hair spikes underneath, indicating that they were all hybrids. Not a single plant remained true to its species, not even the seedlings that finally grew out.
Others who were familiar with these sites mentioned that they also had similar experiences, and were just as surprised.
Human interference, by just walking across these areas, or dragging a fishing boat over them, will cause enough damage to a plant to cause it to delay flowering by a week or two, and provide overlapping flowering times. Many of these places are also nearby active railways or highways and will carry pollinators a far greater distance than it otherwise might make in its journey.
That experience changed my entire view of Sarracenia and Nepenthes with regard to hybridization and gene pool contamination.
Last Edit: Mar 19, 2008 20:13:41 GMT by rsivertsen
... not suffering from insanity, but rather enjoying it actually!
Nature is nature though. I know of a stand of alata that was 'ruined' by someone planting a leucophylla in the middle, but mad hybrid swarms occur perfectly naturally. It's not detrimental to the species - beneficial if you look at the mixing of genes - but it would be bad from our point of view if pure stands were spoilt.
Nice pitchers, Aidan. Me and Barry was at the Hosford bog a few weeks ago, but they weren't awake yet...Some of the S. leuco stands in Tate's Hell Swamp here in Fl. have the same great coloration and some have the darkest maroon venation on pure white uppers that i've ever seen, with the veining being almost black at first glance! Happy Growing, Brian.
I'm guessing that, since Hosford bog is a site with planted Dionaea, the S. leucophylla is also non-native. I think this is a little east of the range of S. leucophylla, with the exception of the Tate's Hell site that Brian B mentioned. Any comments from the Floridians on this?
Hey Barry! I have seen some smaller stands of S. leuco just outside of Bristol, growing around the edges of some small swamps/ponds that exhibit almost the same coloration as the Tate's Hell variety, but in very limited numbers... There were also a few S. flava rugelli growing here and there as well with them, but in even more limited numbers. The slight "beginning" of S. leucos' natural range maybe? Happy Growing, Brian.
If there are exotic Dionaea in the area, one should be suspicious about the occurrence of other introduced plants as well. The desire of plant enthusiasts to modify their local flora is overwhelming. Perhaps "enlightened" modern folk would never introduce non-native plants, but old-timers had no such qualms. I say perhaps, because Barry and I found a recently introduced S. leucophylla in a California bog with the plastic pot discarded nearby.
Perhaps someone should "enlighten" the Park officials too at Apalachicola State Park near Pensacola Fla., as they will stop and search cars driving through there, and will confiscate any Dionaea they find! Presumably putting them into the park areas.
I've heard this from several people who have collected these plants well outside the park limits, along ditches by the highways and roadsides. Inside the park limits, there are several locations with thousands, (perhaps millions!) of Dionaea well naturalized.
I was getting concerned that the sites near Wilmington NC (the ONLY place where they are endemic) were vanishing rapidly, and fewer sites and fewer sites were left with each time I visited the area.
One funny story about such an event happened several years ago, when an old friend of mine suggested that we take a weekend trip to photograph them in their natural habitat while we still could. We got there, checked into a motel, had a good night sleep, and went driving all day around the back roads and byways in search if the VFT in their natural settings, without luck. We found other CPs, but no VFTs.
As daylight began to fade, and an exhaustive search proved futile, we resigned ourselves to just pack up and go back home. We felt the need to do some laundry, and so we took our stinkin' swamp soaked clothes to a local laundromat and sat out back shaking our heads in disgust.
But then my friend mentioned that he must have some "VFT hallucinations" as he thought he saw some VFT flower stalks in the overgrown grassy backyard of this laundromat.
Curiosity got the better of us, and so we went out there to have a better look to see what these plants were that had flower stalks so similar to VFTs. Sure enough, there they were, hundreds of them, VFTs growing right there in the back yard of a local laundromat! We dug up a few (didn't even bother to ask permission) and brought them back inside.
The owner was some middle aged woman, who came over to us and noticed what we had, but not realizing that we dug them out of her backyard. She said: (and I quote) "I know what they are! They are those Venus Fly Plants! I got one a few years ago; sent away to some place in Massachusetts. Cost me five bucks!"
And that's my funny story for today! - Rich
Last Edit: Mar 26, 2008 13:51:39 GMT by rsivertsen
... not suffering from insanity, but rather enjoying it actually!
Having been to Hosford a few times, we have never seen other species of Sarracenia growing there: just the leucos. The site is famous for its Johnny Appleseeded flytraps, but Aidan's plant appears to be a leuco x purpurea (rosea) hybrid. The purps are all several miles to the south of Hosford bog, the first group appearing along the sides of Rt. 65 before entering App. State Park. Barry, those leucos have been there a very long time, and personally think they are the true natives, considering leucos once grew is SW Georgia.