A Bog in Autumn

Recently, I decided to visit a small bog to search for colorful, detailed landscapes and perhaps bring closure to the fall foliage season. The field trip was a success. I found several species of plants that characterize bog sites in this region, and only went in over my 18-inch rubber boots once (my excuse: the small, bottomless pool of water near the edge of the bog was camouflaged by a layer of fallen leaves!).

Tamarack, a deciduous conifer found locally in swamps and at the edges of bogs, has peak color now. Characteristic of this tree, clusters of deciduous needles occur on spurs (stunted twigs), adding to its appeal.

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Tamarack (American Larch)

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Tamarack (American Larch)

Sphagnum moss, the dominant ground cover in the bog, absorbs and holds water like a sponge. Over time, Sphagnum forms peat, hence the term “peat bog”.

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Sphagnum moss

More than two dozen species of Cottongrass are found in the acid bogs of the North. Actually sedges, these herbaceous perennials produce fluffy, cotton-like seed heads that really stand out, in sharp contrast with the more drab colors of a bog in October.

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Cottongrass (Bog Cotton)

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Cottongrass (Bog Cotton)

Typically found in peat bogs, Pitcher Plant is one of several insectivorous plant species that occupy these saturated, acidic, nutrient-poor habitats. The hollow, pitcher-like leaves have downward-pointing hairs and trapped rainwater in the base, adaptations for capturing small insects. Enzymes, tiny invertebrates and bacteria in the water-filled pitfall will aid in the digestion of the “prey” to provide essential nutrients for the plant.  

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Pitcher Plant (the hollow, water-filled leaf)

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Pitcher Plant (the hollow, water-filled leaf and downward-pointing hairs)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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5 thoughts on “A Bog in Autumn

    • Thanks Calee. I wish now that I had worked a little harder to find a good stand of mature Tamarack trees in order to shoot a portrait of the entire tree….next time! Tamarack is native to northern U.S. and Canada; also some in AK. I’m guessing that the larch that you might see in your region would be European or Japanese Larch (planted).

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