Category: 2012 carnivorous plants

Bog of the pitcher-plants

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Sarracenia puprurea are the only species of pitcher plant that grow native on Long Island, NY. Once there were populations across the island, now there are only a few locations left, primarily in the pine barrens around the Peconic River in eastern Suffolk County. They have been observed on floating Sphagnum bogs in coastal plains ponds, in sunny meadows of Sphagnum moss under power lines, and in Sphagnum bogs on the edges on slow moving tributaries of the Peconic River, or in the peaty soil with Atlantic White Cedar in those bogs. Many other carnivorous plants accompany them in their habitats, Drosera rotundifolia are always found, Drosera intermedia usually as well. In two locations, the hybrid Drosera x belezeana (Drosera rotundifolia x intermedia) have been found with the pitcher plants. Bladderworts such as Utricularia gibba are often seen, and U. juncea, U. purpurea, U. macrorhiza have been observed growing alongside them in many locations as well. Although for most of the locations, their populations seem to be doing quite well, in a few sites there seem to have dwindling numbers. It is unfortunate that this curious plant has been extirpated from many of their former locations on Long Island, and it is hoped that the remaining populations will continue to persist well into the future.

Bladderworts and their traps

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12 species of the carnivorous plants known as bladderworts, grow native on Long Island, NY. In the first two photographs, we see the horned bladderwort, Utricularia cornuta, growing in the shallow waters along the sandy shore habitat of a coastal plains pond. The first photograph is of its elegant yellow flower, and the second shows the details of the plant that grow underground, where its miniature traps consume its miniscule prey. The other three photographs are of the striped bladderwort, Utricularia striata, in a shallow vernal pond. The yellow flower and foxtail-like growth habit of the plant are evident in the first photograph, and the second has the detail of the trap structures which float beneath the surface of the water. In the third photo, we see the same traps that have caught their prey, the purple color being the digestive enzymes secreted by the plant. These traps are observed to flatten, as they compress and crush their victims, while absorbing the nutrients that they derive from their captives.

Ravenous sundews

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Long Island, NY, is home to 16 species of carnivorous plants. Three of those species are sundews, and two are pictured here. The first three photographs are of Drosera intermedia, also known as the spoonleaf sundew. The habitat where they were photographed is on the edge of a small vernal pond in the pine barrens of Long Island, NY. The habitat is almost pure sand, that is saturated with rain water. In the first photograph, we see a prey capture of a meadowhawk dragonfly, and the second photo shows how the plants can grow from low rosettes to forming stems that climb. The third photograph is a detail of the traps of D. intermedia.
The last two photographs are of the threadleaf sundew, Drosera filiformis. This habitat is in a low swath at the bottom of a dune swale, surrounded by high sand dunes that protect the habitat from the salt air of the nearby bay. The groundwater seeps up, keeping the sand very wet while being exposed to strong sunlight throughout the day. The fourth photograph focuses on an individual plant, with an emerging flower stalk, early in the season. The final photograph shows a portion of the population, as the sun begins to set behind them, providing dramatic lighting that highlights the dewey nectar that attracts and traps their insect prey. These photographs were taken in the 2012 season.