Field Collecting

The basic rule should be: Do not collect from the field. I believe the exceptions to this concept are less than one per cent. True, many of the plants you may come across seem endless in a particular location or even in a very large geographic area. But equally true is the cliche that, if everyone who came through took some plants, there would ultimately be few or none left. Many states have laws intended to protect these and other valuable native plants, but the statutes are unenforceable and are all too often blatantly ignored. Small collections for serious research purposes are exceptions, and most states offer permits for this kind of collecting. Commercial firms are supposed to propagate their stock, but many have been known to collect regularly from the wild as orders accumulate. Such firms should be boycotted.

You may be fortunate enough to come into ownership of a natural bog, or to obtain permission to use a bog on someone else's property. The bog may or may not contain native carnivorous plants, but even if not, you can use it for careful plantings. If you are going to add non-native carnivorous plants to your bog, be sure to place them in a clearly marked-off area along one edge so that they will remain segregated.

You may have to do some work on the bog to prevent or partially reverse eutrophication. Cut out unwanted shrub and herbaceous growth from the center and from around the edges if the vegetation appears to be encroaching on true bog plants. Many bogs are partially drained in an ill-conceived attempt to try to make the land agriculturally useful. Block up any such efforts at drainage. Check the uphill slopes around a bog, especially water inflow areas, to be sure that sources of contamination and toxic materials are removed. Keep traffic in the bog to a minimum; much tramping about damages important bog plants and tends to create paths that soon become new drainage ditches. Ideally, you can even build a walkway around or across the bog, using creosote-soaked wood or abandoned rail ties, which will do only minimal harm to plants where the wood actually touches them. Such a walkway will reduce immensely the damage from traffic.

You may be able to stock your bog or build up your private growing collection by taking advantage of dying or threatened stands of carnivorous plants. Many a bog on private property is undergoing rapid eutrophi-cation, and perhaps the owner does not wish it preserved. Obtain permission to collect in such cases. Also, many savannahs and bogs are being drained and cleared for massive forestry and agriculture, some for the right of way for roads, and others are being flooded in dam projects. If you hear of such activity, get in touch with the current owner or project manager and obtain permission to rescue the plants.

Many times you will run across a doomed location that has far too many plants for your own collection, or perhaps has other rare and desirable non-carnivorous species as well. In cases of this sort, get in touch with local botanical gardens, especially those that are particularly interested in native plants. Some areas have native plant societies, and these people are always happy to go out on a "dig," as it is called, and will rescue and relocate endangered native plants by the truckload. In North Carolina, for example, the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Wild Flowers has often worked in concert with the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill in various digs, relocating plants to the garden, which specializes in native flora, and to other native gardens in the state as well. This particular arrangement works out very well. But beware of some botanical gardens, even large ones. In spite of their prestige, many simply cannot care for carnivorous plants properly, and many donated collections have been promptly lost.

The best time to make field collections (again, do not collect except for serious research or for the sake of the plants) is very early spring when the plants are just budding, or in the autumn. Always collect a ball of the soil or sphagnum in which the plants are growing to help maintain them during transport. Be careful of damaging the tender leaves of Drosera and Pingui-cula. Do not pile small tender plants but lay them carefully out in flat, shallow trays.

When you arrive at the transplant site with your plants, check them carefully for introduceable disease. If infested specimens of Sarracenia are found, trim and burn all affected pitchers. Plants infested with Sarracenia root borer are best destroyed. In all plants, cut off dying, damaged, or diseased leaves. It is also a good policy to wash the roots of larger plants clean in some place where the washings will not contaminate the new planting site. Then, plant as soon as possible.

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