Georgia Botanical Society’s ‘Year of the Bog’ Raises Profile of Coastal Plain Bogs

Coastal Plain herbaceous bogs have been described as small, rare jewels – one of the highest-priority habitats for rare plant conservation in Georgia.

These bogs have unique plant assemblages that thrive in the unusual soggy, acidic, open conditions. Carnivorous plants, such as pitcherplants, butterworts and sundews, trap and ingest insects, obtaining nitrogen and other nutrients that are sparse in bog soils. There are beautiful orchids. Colorfully named plants are also common: hatpins, colic-roots and yellowed-eyed grasses. The Natural Communities of Georgia calls them “some of the showiest natural gardens” of the region.

Although never widespread, Coastal Plain bogs were once more common. They’ve lost ground to agriculture, development, fire suppression and hydrologic disturbance. Survivors still face these threats.

Which is why the Georgia Botanical Society, a member of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, is turning its attention to bogs. Formed in 1926, the group’s mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of plants and their relationship to the environment. To that end, members support conservation of botanical resources, including habitats.

During the society’s 47th annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage last weekend in Valdosta, leaders put their money where their interest is, giving the Georgia Department of Natural Resources a $5,000 donation to support conservation of Coastal Plain bogs.

DSCN3845
Steven Childs, 6, explores a stand of trumpet pitcherplants at the ABAC bog in Turner County, part of a field trip during the Georgia Botanical Society’s recent Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. (Lisa Kruse/DNR)

Lisa Kruse, who represented the Department of Natural Resources at the event, had this to say: “I was floored! I had no idea about the size of this donation and am honored to receive it from the GA Bot Soc. They do not have any large endowment of funds; they’re a group of folks who simply get together to share their love of plants. This is a huge contribution to the conservation of pitcher plant bogs.”

The group also has named 2016 the Year of the Bog and will be scheduling field trips, work days and member educational opportunities to learn more about bogs. The Georgia Botanical Society journal, Tipularia, will feature articles on bogs. The newsletter BotSoc News is running a series on bogs.

The recent Wildflower Pilgrimage kick-started the outreach, handing DNR botanist Lisa Kruse a check and offering members field trips to no fewer than five bogs in the area.

Botanical Society President Maureen Donohue said the organization has an interest in all land types, but a “continuing interest in bogs.”

In planning for last weekend’s pilgrimage, “Everyone was excited,” she said, “because we were in the middle of bog country!”

News and other updates regarding bogs coming soon to the Georgia Botanical Society’s website, www.gabotsoc.org.

Pitcherplants_DoerunPitcherplantBogNaturalArea_Rick Lavender_DNR
Doerun Pitcherplant Bog Natural Area (Rick Lavender/DNR)
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