Camping trip for science nerdery: Fall break 2012

A couple weeks ago,  we had the lovely four day weekend known as Fall Break.  Although I used some of this time to catch up on school work, stupid TV, and house cleaning, I also took advantage of the break to go on a camping trip to Carolina Beach State Park, at the mouth of Cape Fear River. In addition to some lovely walks and board gaming in the park, and walks along the Atlantic coast in Kure Beach, we made a detour to the Green Swamp Preserve. This reserve, owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy, boasts a high density of carnivorous plants, some of which are rare or endangered.  For the kind of nerd who gets excited about plants that eat animals, it was a great place to spend an afternoon.

Here are a few photos of pitcher plants, Venus fly traps, and the long-leaf pine savanna ecosystems in which they live:

 

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A clump of yellow pitcher plants at Green Swamp.

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Yellow pitcher plants with a last hanging-on flower.

fire trail

There is a lot of evidence of fire influence in this landscape. Here, a fallen log has scorched a long, straight trail into the ground. Carnivorous plants in this ecosystem depend on fire to keep shrubs and undergrowth at bay, so that the sun can reach these little plants growing near the ground's surface.

Pine savanna

Longleaf pine savanna.

candlestick

Pine savanna in the "candlestick" phase of post-fire regeneration.

Sweet/Redflower Pitcher plant

A cluster of tiny Sweet/Redflower pitcher plants.

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Picturesque Amanita mushroom along the trail.

Venus fly traps

After a bit of a walk... Venus flytrap! I was so excited to see these little guys in their native habitat, as they are only found in a tiny sliver of coastal North and South Carolina.

purple pitcher

A cluster of purple pitcher plants.

purple pticher close up

Purple pitcher plant close-up. All those hairs on the inside of the leaf keeps insects from being able to crawl out.

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Insects that fall into the pitcher plant can't escape, and fall to a watery doom. Digestive enzymes in the reservoir at the bottom digest insects so that plants can take up the nitrogen in their bodies.

flytrap 2

Another Venus flytrap! So dear!

Snake

A visitor to the campsite!

Cape Fear River

The shore of the Cape Fear River in Carolina Beach State Park.

Lichens at CBSP

On a walk at Carolina Beach State Park, big pillowy patches of crazy lichen things.

 

If you want to see more pictures of carnivorous plants in North Carolina (and you know you do, because they’re super cool!), head on over here.

One thought on “Camping trip for science nerdery: Fall break 2012

  1. Awesome photos, Megan. Very cool that you were able to see a Venus Flytrap in its native habitat. Thanks for sharing!

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