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Zurich Bog’s Carnivorous Plants

8 Jun

Zurich Bog, an advanced sphagnum bog or peatland in upstate New York, was given to the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society for preservation on December 10, 1957 by Lyman Stuart and the Newark School District.  Over 50 years later, the bog supports  a cornucopia of native plant species including carnivorous sundews (Drosera rotundiflora) and purple pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea). I had the pleasure of hiking the bog on April 30th, 2011 with environmental scientist Valerie George as a guide and my girlfriend Meaghan Boyle.  Non-carnivorous plants you might find in the bog include: “water willow, highbush blueberry, mountain holly, black huckleberry, small cranberry, and several species of orchids” (Johnson, 234).  I captured the following two images of the bog’s carnivores soon after the last frost in the area and before anything had begun flowering:

Drosera rotundifolia in the Zurich Bog

Drosera rotundifolia in the Zurich Bog

The species of sundew above was “made famous by Charles Darwin’s tireless and hideous experiments upon it” (D’Amato, 136).  It captures insects with its sticky glue-like dew and tentacles that slowly wrap around the prey as it struggles.

Sarracenia purpurea in the Zurich Bog

Sarracenia purpurea in the Zurich Bog

The purple pitcher plant above is one of the American Pitcher Plants which is a different genus than the Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes).  The collar of the purple pitchers are “covered in bristly, downward-pointing haris.  Insects often cling to and slip from these hairs, which are wet with nectar” (D’Amato, 75).

According to Valerie, early June is the best time to observe the purple pitcher plants in flower.  Definitely check it out if you are near upstate, NY and hike with respect in these fragile peatlands.

Works Cited:

D’Amato, Peter.  The Savage Garden: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants.  Ten Speed Press, 1998.  Print.

Johnson, Charles.  Bogs of the Northeast.  University Press of New England, 1985.  Print.


Pygmy Sundew Propagation by Gemmae

28 Apr

I recently ordered a number of carnivorous plants from Cook’s Carnivorous Plants as well as CP Jungle.  One of those plants was a pygmy sundew, Drosera Scorpioides.  I wasn’t sure what was going on with the top of the plant at first; was it flowering?  It was actually producing gemmae or brood bodies that may be propagated asexually.  These are modified leaves that break free in the wild when struck by rain and they each contain an exact clone of the parent plant.

Here is a 2.5 minute video showing my process for propagating my new Drosera scorpioides from gemmae:

This is the plant the same day it was received from Cook’s Carnivorous Plants:

Drosera scorpioides, a pygmy sundew

Drosera scorpioides, a pygmy sundew

I fed my plant a moth 2 days before removing about 5 of the gemmae, 2 of which you see in the video above.  For the morbidly curious, the video of the moth being enveloped by the sundew tentacles is below.  After about 30 seconds the footage is sped up to 2000% although you’ll still probably want to skip forward as there is a lot of footage.  Notice there are a few more gemmae on the plant in this video: