Monday, May 16, 2011

Bog Visits

My wife ran a marathon this past Saturday. I knew I'd have a few hours to kill, so I had planned to go geocaching with our 2 kids while she ran. I selected a bunch of geocaches more or less along her marathon route, so we could periodically cross paths with her and cheer her on. It so happened the marathon was in Vilas County, WI, an area full of bogs. And I was able to find some geocaches that would put us within walking distance of a few of them. So we braved the 39 degree day, with on and off drizzle, and went bogtrotting/geocaching.
One stop was at the Scott & Shelp Lake State Natural Area, SE of the small town of Three Lakes, WI. A pretty desolate area with a really nice bog margin around the lake. Pitcher plants were not that abundant, but were present, including this very large one not far off the boardwalk. I wonder how old it is:
Sarracenia purpurea

Here's a view of the actual bog area, pretty typical for this part of the country:
Scott & Shelp Lake State Natural Area, Forest Co., WI
It's still pretty early in the year, and I think things are probably a couple of weeks behind the usual spring. I didn't even see any buds emerging on the pitcher plants. The only thing I saw in bloom was Leatherleaf, a shrub in the same family as blueberries and rhododendrons that is commonly found in bogs around here. Here's a shot of the blooms:

This next photo is at Katie Lake, a small bog lake in the Vilas County Forest, west of Eagle River, WI. This bog is a little different than the previous one, in that there is not much of a shrub layer. Leatherleaf was the predominant cover at Shelp Lake. Here, basically just a carpet of Sphagnum with some sedges growing amongst it:
Katie Lake
And here's a single pitcher plant mostly obscured by the Sphagnum:
Sarracenia purpurea
Besides some sedges, you can also see cranberry growing, mainly in the top half of the photo, it's the plant with the small green leaves.

This last photo is at Mud Minnow Lake, also in the Vilas County Forest. Here, leatherleaf once again was the predominant groundcover. The conifers are black spruce and tamarack. Black spruce is the one with the needles present. The trees that look like they have no leaves are the tamarack. It's a conifer than sheds its needles in the fall, and at this time, they are just beginning to leaf out:
Mud Minnow Lake Bog
Here's a close-up of the tamarack leafing out (this one was taken at the Scott/Shelp Lake State Natural Area):
Tamarack, Scott & Shelp Lake State Natural Area, WI

In other news, my outdoor plants are moving along nicely. Alot of new pitchers are extending up, although not quite close to opening yet. I've counted 64 flower stalks, and that will probably be about as many as I'll get, there may be a few more that haven't quite emerged yet. Still probably a week or two until the first ones open.

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