We had been given permission from TNC in Alabama to visit two preserves in NE Alabama. We started our tour with Chitwood Barrens Preserve. After an exhaustive search for oreophila, we gave up. The most frustrating thing was that were even given a map from TNC that had an arrow showing where the plants were. I’m sure we were walking around them to be honest, it was just so overgrown, and in need of help, that unless someone pointed them out, finding them was near impossible. This site needs some love!
So we moved further south to a possible site. A friend sent me a reference to oreophila being spotted on a hiking trail near the Little River gorge. So I contacted the person who posted this on his website and he sent me GPS coordinates to the area. We found the path, we found the creek he was referring to, but did not find the plant. We found powercut nearby, and I thought… “hey, don’t I always seem to find Sarracenia in powercuts?” Seeing how the same steam that we were following in the woods where the plant was spotted, it made sense to think that there might be plants in the cut! Yep… I was right! Not a huge population, maybe 30 or so clumps. I don’t think its an unknown location, but for me it was like discovering the site. Pretty typical looking plants, kinda pooched out for the summer.
Then we moved on to our last site… again, a very well known site… the Coosa River Preserve.
The following is a photograph of the site in 2003. I got this off flickr so if someone recognizes who owns it, or you are the owner, please understand I do not mean to steel your image, I just want to use it to show a then and now comparison. I will give you the best credit that I can here from the info I found on Flickr. The photo below is owned by Brian and lives in St. Peter Minnesota and he goes by Aeranthes on Flickr. So Brian if you see this and want me to remove it, I certainly will. Please contact me here on my blog.
Clearly a large healthy population of plants. Sadly, when I visited this site, it was a very overgrown mess. It was clear that there was some attempt to mechanically remove some brush recently, but it is VERY overgrown. We did find plants, but nothing like what is pictured above. Below is a random shot of the habitat now.
Here is photo of the nicest looking plants that I found.
And so ended day 2. It was very cool to see these sites, but clearly more work needs to be done. Sadly, the TNC is very overworked in AL and can only do so much. It would be nice to see this site restored to the lustre it had back in 2003.
Our next day was going to equally cool… the last of three CITIES Appendix 1 plants… S. rubra alabamensis.