Thursday, June 12, 2014
Triangle Lake Bog and its pitcher-plants
Triangle Lake Bog State Nature Preserve on a rainy day. I traveled to northeast Ohio last Sunday for a gig, and left bright and early to visit one of the coolest preserves in Ohio before heading over to Cleveland. While kettle lake bogs would have been commonplace in parts of Ohio for thousands of years following the last glaciation (10-12 thousand years ago), most have long since succumbed to the processes of natural plant succession. Of the relatively few that remain here, in my opinion Triangle Lake, which is just outside of Ravenna, is the nicest example. It should be a must-see for any Ohioan interested in natural history. To find such bogs now, at least commonly, one must venture several hundred miles to the north.
As the massive wall of ice that was the Wisconsin Glacier receded, large blocks of ice would regularly calve from its face. These enormous ice cubes would crash to the soft, newly exposed mire left in the wake of the glacier, and form kettle lakes. At first, the divots would be nothing but cold pools of clear water, but plants quickly invaded their margins. Over time, a highly specialized flora evolved and a bog was born. Eventually, plant life would expand to the point that the kettle lake would be completely covered by a bog mat. Now, most of Ohio's bogs have advanced to a state of swamp forest, their bog past scarcely discernible.
Last Sunday was a very wet day, and I only had a total of about 1/2 hour in which the rain abated to the point that camera equipment could be taken out on the boardwalk. Nonetheless, I was able to click off some images between downpours, and plants usually photograph quite nicely when beaded with water.
In this shot, a vigorous clump of pitcher-plants shoots from a carpet of large cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon. The latter plant, like the aforementioned blueberry, is commonly cultivated and provides us with commercial cranberries. Cranberry grows on thick tussocks of Sphagnum moss, which is the dominant substrate on open bog mats.
Pitcher-plant is officially listed as threatened in Ohio, and this rare plant is found in only a handful of sites, nearly all of which are bogs. There are one or two populations in fens, too.
The leaves of the pitcher-plant are modified into tubular water-filled death traps that capture insects. Thus, the plant is one of our few truly carnivorous plants. I wrote in some detail about the killing apparatus of pitcher-plants HERE.
I highly recommend a visit to Triangle Lake Bog. If you can get there within the next few weeks, the pitcher-plant flowers should still be looking good. But anytime of the year is interesting. A visit to this bog is like stepping foot into Canada. For details about the preserve, CLICK HERE.
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