So here’s day three of visiting Appendix 1 plant sites. We’re off to see the wizard… no! wrong! We’re off to see alabamensis! Now its hard to admit this publicly, but it wasn’t as thrilling as I had hoped it would be… don’t get me wrong, it was way too cool to be photographing and seeing alabamensis in the wild, but it was kinda sad at the same time… let me explain.
Anyone who has seen a large savannah full of Sarracenia can attest to the fact that it is an awesome site! One of those WOW moments. Pitcher after pitcher littering the landscape! It IS really cool. Suffice it to say, that this alabamensis site wasn’t a large impressive field, but rather a small, rather inconspicuous collection of plants situated deep in forest on the side of a hill.
Sarracenia rubra ssp alabamensis is only extant in two counties in central Alabama now – Chilton and Autauga. According to the gent at TNC, in his estimation there is only three viable sites left in the wild. By this he means capable of reproducing and continuing long term… and this was one of them. That my friends is why this was sad. This small, unimpressive group of plants was one of three sites left in the wild that might have a chance to be around in the future. Other than the other two viable sites, the few scattered sites of alabamensis that are left are pretty much doomed.
So that’s why it was cool and sad at the same time, this was one of the three best, and it was small and unimpressive! Now to be fair, you’ll notice in the photos that plants themselves looked like crap. Any of you who grow this plant know that their Spring pitchers are generally pretty messed up and not all that impressive, but in the fall, they put up an amazing robust flush of pitchers! I’m sure if I was visiting the site now, or better yet in a few weeks, it would have been more of a WOW moment.
So here are some of the photos that I took at the Case Preserve in Autauga Co. AL. I want to publicly thank the Alabama Chapter o fThe Nature Conservancy for allowing us to visit this site. Although my ramblings may be sounding a bit negative, it is certainly NOT a reflection on TNC. It is clear that they are doing an AMAZING job maintaining this site. There was were a lot of plants in a small area, there were many seedlings and juvenile plants visible, so clearly, this site is flourishing. I’m sure that without the intervention of the people at TNC, this site would be overgrown and extirpated quickly!
Below is photo of the plants growing on the hillside seep. They literally grow in band along the hill, if you go too high, the disappear, if you go to low, the disappear, there is clearly an area where the moisture regime is “just right”. The vegetation is clearly kept at bay.
In the above shots, you can see that the fall crop of pitchers was just starting.
As we finished off our morning and headed back to our vehicle… the thing that stuck out in my mind was that this was again one of those places where I would never have expected to see Sarracenia growing. Certainly nothing like the coastal populations I’m used to seeing anyway. These Appendix 1 plants certainly have interesting habitats, but after visiting them, I can appreciate how fragile they really are.
I guess you can figure what we had for lunch.
So after a gallon of sweet tea and some pulled pork, beans and slaw… we headed south to the Conecuh National Forest in southeastern AL.