Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada

Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada
Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada
by Donald E. Schnell
Timber Press, Inc., 2002
ISBN 0881925403

It was a pleasure to see that Dr. Schnell has updated his earlier volume of Carnivorous Plants first published by Blair Press in 1976. Both editions have been the only books devoted to the native carnivorous plants of the United States. The newer updated second edition of Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada is an expansion of the previous one, including general notes and a short discussion on cultivation. Schnell delves into what a “true” carnivorous plant is and in what type of habitat each species thrives. He describes the different methods of trapping and how each species attracts their prey. Each species requires low nutrient acidic soils and bright sunlight. Some species may also be dependent on fire. Many species live in or are associated with the acidic loving Sphagnum moss—much of which lives in savannas, bogs, and seepage areas. Schnell describes each of the forty-five species in detail and includes range maps and information on cultivation, pollination, and animal associates. Hybrids exist for some species where their ranges overlap.

Dr. Schnell stresses the need for conservation, not only for the plants themselves, but for the ecosystem in which they live. Many of the areas that once harbored many species has been greatly reduced by ditching and draining boggy areas, over-collecting, improper burning practices and complete destruction of the habitat. Many of the species are threatened or endangered in states where these once thrived.

The Wild Orchids of North America

The Wild Orchids of North American, North of Mexico
The Wild Orchids of North America,
North of Mexico

Paul Martin Brown
University Press of Florida, 2003
ISBN 0813025729

The Wild Orchids of North America, North of Mexico by Paul Martin Brown encompasses some 239 illustrated species and 49 subspecies of orchids that are found in North America north of Mexico. This flex-cover volume is a complement to Brown's Wild Orchids of Florida (Brown, 2002).

Although Brown does not include descriptions for each species, he does provide keys for all genera and species. Each species is listed alphabetically and references and citations are provided for the reader to learn more about each one.

The appendix includes a section on additions, corrections, nomenclature changes. He also comments on Luer’s 1972 and 1975 monumental works. A checklist with scientific and common names for all species and subspecies is also provided for those who want to keep track of what the reader may find in the field.

A reminder to those who like to hunt for orchids: Take pictures, but leave them in their natural soil—never ever collect any species and leave them for others to enjoy.

Wild Orchids of Florida

Wild Orchids of Florida
Wild Orchids of Florida
by Paul Martin Brown
University Press of Florida, 2006
ISBN 0813029333

Wild Orchids of Florida by Paul Martin Brown is the first real field guide of Florida's native orchids. This guide discusses the 118 species of orchids found in Florida, with 106 of these being native to the state. These 118 species represent over one half of the known species to be found in the United States and Canada.

A historical overview of Luer's monumental 1972 work, Native Orchids of Florida, is provided and includes corrections, name changes, and other synonyms. Range maps where vouchered specimens for each county are included. Keys to each genus and a checklist for native and naturalized species are also included.

Brown gives a taste of where to look for many species at least these two areas in north Florida, the coastal plain, and scrub habitats.

The descriptions through taxonomic keys helps to identify most genera down to a species. Photographs and drawings by Stan Folsum are included for each species.

My only complaint is that the illustrations should include major characteristics of troublesome species. Otherwise, this is one book that I would not leave at home when botanizing throughout the state of Florida and the flexicover should last for years.

Pitcherplant Savanna at Sunset

Pitcherplant Savanna at Sunset

This is one of our favorite photos of a pitcherplant savanna. We had discovered this recently burned savanna earlier in the day. When we returned in the late evening, the dewthreads glittered in the setting sun's rays to create a magnificent scene. Each year we check this savanna which we call "the secret place," but we haven't seen it as lovely as on that first day.

Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee

Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee
Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry
and Lower Pee Dee

by Richard D. Porcher
University of South Carolina Press, 1995
ISBN 1570030278

Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee by Richard Porcher is a beautiful account of 437 native plant species represented by 466 photos of species and habitat that are found throughout the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Lower Pee Dee—almost one-third of the state's fifteen counties. Many of the represented plant species are threatened or endangered and are therefore protected by law.

Identifications are made not only by color or plant family, but also by locality where you might find each species, especially along roadsides. The author lists forty-eight sites throughout the state that harbor a high diversity of plant species. These sites include state parks, county parks, and along trails.

Each species is fully described and includes an accurate photograph that shows important taxonomic characters. The author comments about each species' natural history and how the plant may be used medicinally or as dye sources. There are sections devoted to carnivorous plants, orchids, rare, and poisonous plants.

A thorough bibliography and an illustrated glossary are also included.

The only two additions that I would add are an alphabetical arrangement of species and families and a ruler either on the front or back cover.

Wildflowers of Tennessee

Wildflowers of Tennessee
Wildflowers of Tennessee
by Jack B. Carman
Highland Rim Press, 2001
ISBN 0970841809

In his book Wildflowers of Tennessee, author Jack B. Carman describes over 1100 of the 2800 species of wildflowers from Tennessee as well as actually covering many more that are found in the surrounding states. He divides Tennessee into nine areas from the coastal plain to the Blue Ridge mountains.

Plants are arranged in phylogenetic order and the species within each genus are arranged alphabetically. Identifications are made easier by the outstanding photographs of 785 species that clearly show the plants' major characteristics. Each description is non-technical and includes the species name and derivation mostly from the Greek and Latin. Each book is supplied with its own plastic cover.

It is a pleasure to find such a book of southern wildflowers that can be utilized for identification even in states as far south as Florida.

Gardening with Carnivores: Sarracenia Pitcher Plants in Cultivation and in the Wild

Gardening with Carnivores: Sarracenia Pitcher Plants in Cultivat
Gardening with Carnivores: Sarracenia
Pitcher Plants in Cultivation & in the Wild

by Nick Romanowski
University Press of Florida, 2002
ISBN 0813025095
Paperback and Harcover

For those of you who are carnivorous plant lovers that want to grow Sarracenia pitchers—this is it. Few books have been written that covers it all on just the cultivation and raising carnivorous plants.

The author discusses in detail all of the eight to ten species, hybrids, and varieties. He provides technical data not only on cultivation requirements but also on habitat, soil type, seed propagation, pollination and pest problems. He also gives details on constructing bog gardens and the mixing of other plant species.

He provides range maps of native populations and informs us to buy only cultivated plants. All species and hybrids are now in cultivation somewhere and can be easily obtained rather than collecting from the wild.

In recent years white top pitcher plant “leaves” have been harvested from the wild as cut “flowers” to satisfy those florists who incorporate them in flower arrangements. Commercially growing this species can bring in big monetary returns. And thus preserving and protecting wild populations. Less than three percent of the native pitcherplant habitat remains.

A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina

A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina
A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina
by Richard Dwight Porcher and
Douglas Alan Rayner
University of South Carolina Press, 2002
ISBN 1570034389

A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina is a complement to the Wildflowers of the Carolina Lowcountry and Lower Pee Dee. (University of South Carolina Press, 1995). Both books together encompass 1150 photographs of South Carolina wildflowers.

The photographs of this volume represent 711 of the 3160 species of native and naturalized plants that are found in South Carolina.

Authors Richard Porcher and Douglas Rayner have used a habitat approach to identification rather than by color or species taxonomy. They divide the state into three provinces—the Blue Ridge, the Piedmont, and the Coastal Plain. Fifty-one sites are discussed where a variety of species and habitats can be found. What is really nice is that each species is thoroughly described and includes common name, scientific name, pronunciation, range, similar species, and a short comments section.

The history of field botany in South Carolina is traced back to Mark Catesby and covers notable “botanists” such as William Bartram, André Michaux and Wade Batson, all of whom have added much to the understanding of flora of the state.

Porcher and Rayner discuss the future need for more field botanists. In the past twenty years many academic institutions have abandoned training at the graduate level for M.S. or PhD. students in field botany.

It is hoped that books like this one will renew the interest in field botany by amateur students and academic institutions.

The Monarch Butterfly: Change from Caterpillar to Chrysalis

One of the benefits of having a yard full of native plants is that you can easily observe the life histories of many insects including butterflies.

Many years ago, while walking through our yard, I spotted a monarch caterpillar hanging upside down from the leaf of a Fireflag (Thalia geniculata). It had already fastened its cremaster to the leaf and was in a "J" position. This position is characteristic of many butterfly species when almost ready to shed the final skin to reveal the chrysalis.

My wife and I ran inside to get our cameras to capture the event. I took a few quick shots (with a film camera then) and set up my tripod in anticipation of getting some really good images of the "change." I knew it would be quite a while before the monarch shed her skin so I went about other business and checked every fifteen minutes or so to monitor the caterpillar's progress and take a few additional photos. It was about 11:30 a.m. when we first saw the caterpillar and by 2:30 p.m., we could see that the outer skin was getting more wrinkled, a sign that it would not be much longer. This is when I made my critical mistake: rather than sitting there for the next three hours, I thought I could leave and just check the status every five minutes or so. I last checked it at 2:45 p.m. with no visible changes. Fortunately my wife was also checking its progress and by 2:50 p.m., the skin was already beginning to split to reveal the newly transformed chrysalis. She had her digital camera set up as well and began snapping photos while screaming to me, "Get out here! It's changing!" Neither of us actually photographed the moments before the skin split to reveal the green chrysalis.

Watch a video of a monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis in The Monarch Butterfly: Emerging from Its Chrysalis.

Continue reading: How the video was made