If for no other reason than artistic license, I’m inclined to side with those who see Sarracenia leucophylla (white-topped pitcher plant) as today’s equivalent of William Bartram’s Saracinia lacunosa, rather than those who thought that Bartram was describing Sarracenia minor (hooded pitcher plant). After all, the range of S. minor doesn’t reach the environs of Pensacola where Bartram described the plant in the 1770's; Pensacola is firmly within the range of S. leucophylla. Either way, I propose that this scene captures something of the experience he had long ago in an unknown wet savanna of the Gulf Coast. This painting is a composite: the background reflects the openness of the Grand Bay Savanna west of Mobile Bay; the white-topped pitcher plants in the foreground are residents of the Alabama Nature Conservancy’s Splinter Hill Bog preserve, about 60 miles northwest of Pensacola. When I arrived at the bog late one evening in August 2009, I was dazzled by my first view of this spectacular carnivore, particularly by the way the light from the evening sky seemed to be caught in the glowing throats of the plants, giving them an unworldly aura. *
Visit the the Alabama Nature Conservancy's Splinter Hill Bog Preserve.
* This is an excerpt from Philip's essay appearing in: Bartram’s Living Legacy: Travels and the Nature of the South