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Floristics and management of pitcher plant bogs in northern Natchitoches and Winn Parishes, Louisiana.

ABSTRACT--We describe the floristics and edaphic conditions of pitcher plant bogs on the Winn Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest in northern Natchitoches and Winn parishes. These are the most northern known pitcher plant bogs in Louisiana. Because these bogs were in poor condition largely due to fire suppression, management consisting of hand-clearing, burning, and frilling was undertaken.

Key words: pitcher plant bog, Kisatchie National Forest, floristics, pitcher plants, Sarracenia.


In 1997 and 1998 while conducting routine surveys for headwaters communities, we discovered eight pitcher plant bogs in the northern part of the Winn Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest. These bogs represent the most northern location for pitcher plant bogs in Louisiana; four are in northeastern Natchitoches Parish and four are in northwestern Winn Parish. Four bogs in Natchitoches Parish and three bogs in Winn Parish had pitcher plants, Sarracenia alata, the sine qua non of bog indicator species (Fig. 1). When these bogs were first located, all were overgrown notably with such species as Persea palustris, Viburnum nudum, Toxicodendron vernix, and Magnolia virginiana due to fire suppression and were badly rutted due to logging activities. Nonetheless, small openings persisted and in them were pitcher plants and other bog species. Since pitcher plant bogs are rare--especially in this part of Louisiana--we undertook to preserve them and to gather information on their floristics and edaphics: information that adds to the growing body of knowledge about this plant community in the West Gulf Coastal Plain (Allen et al. 1988; MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1988, 1990, 1991a, b, 1992, 1993, 1998a, b; Nixon and Ward 1986).


Prior to 1997, only three bogs were known from this region and only one, Strange Road Bog northwest of Goldonna, was in good condition (MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1988). The other two sites are now only remnants: one in southern Bienville Parish near Saline, the other near Readhimer in northern Natchitoches Parish (MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1991a, Sheridan 1991).

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, we describe the floristics, edaphics, and rare and noteworthy species of these new bogs. Second, we describe management procedures so far undertaken.


In 1999 and 2000 we conducted a floristic inventory of two of these newly discovered bogs: Lewis Klein's Bog in northeastern Natchitoches Parish (T13NR6WS35-36) and Lynn's Bog in northwestern Winn Parish (T13NR5WS9). Both measure about 0.2 hectares. Each occurs in a hillside seepage area that has been largely overgrown by woody vegetation and is now a baygall community. Lewis Klein's Bog is mainly below the baygall; Lynn's Bog is above the baygall. We surveyed each site several times in 1999, and in 2000 once a month between March and October. Both bogs are on hillsides with about five percent slope. Like all hillside bogs, these are seepage fed from above by water percolating to the surface over a wide area; they are palustrine, persistent, emergent, saturated wetlands (Cowardin et al. 1979). Except in severe and prolonged drought--as occurred in the summer of 2000--the ground is continuously wet. Lewis Klein's Bog occurs on and down slope from soils of the Betis-Briley-Malbis series, well-drained Tertiary soils with a sandy surface and sandy-loamy substrate. All are classified as Paleudults (Martin et al. 1990). Lynn's Bog occurs on fine sandy loam of the Boykin and Sacul series classified as Hapludults and Paleudults (Boyd et al. 1998). General ecological and climatic information on the area can be found in Bridges and Orzell (1989), Harcombe et al. (1993), Martin and Smith (1991), and Turner et al. (1999).

Soil samples were taken from the upper 15 cm at each site and sent to A & L Laboratory, Memphis, Tennessee, for chemical analysis.


Table 1 lists the vascular plants found in Lynn's and Lewis Klein's bogs. Nomenclature follows Kartesz and Meacham (1999) and authorities can be read in that source. Table 2 gives information on soil samples from these bogs. Since we found rare or noteworthy species in these bogs, we briefly discuss them in Table 3.


In pre-European times, fire was a regular feature of the southeastern landscape, including bogs, which it kept free of woody species that invade and shade out smaller species (Brewer 1999, Drewa 1999, Olson and Platt 1995, Platt 1999). However, because of extensive fire suppression during the twentieth century, fire-dependent plant communities have lost much of their acreage, and once shrubs and trees are established, fire alone is rarely sufficient to clear woody species.

Because woody invaders are choking all the Winn District bogs, we have initiated management procedures: hand-clearing, burning, and frilling. A contractor was hired to clear woody vegetation from all the newly discovered bogs and parts of Strange Road Bog. Heavy equipment was not used because of potential damage to soil and plants. Hand-clearing--using chain saws and a weedeater with circular saw attachment--started in February 1999. We marked the area to be cleared and identified and marked larger, undesirable trees and shrubs that needed to be removed in the bogs and adjacent baygall edges. These were mainly Nyssa, Morella, Persea, Magnolia, and Pinus taeda. We did not want larger trees cut and left in the bog, so these were girdled and left standing. These trees eventually die and reduce shading. Small woody debris was left in the bog as fuel but larger limbs and trunks were removed. None of the longleaf pine was cut.

Prescribed fire has been subsequently introduced to all the bogs. Fire top-kills many of the resprouting trees and shrubs but does not generally affect roots. Nonetheless, it keeps resprouting shrubs down, clears litter, and prevents new invaders from getting a toehold.

Because stem sprouting is extensive in many species (e.g., Liquidambar, Acer rubrum, Persea, Magnolia), in December 2001 we frilled (hack and squirt) woody stems using Garlon[TM] 3A (Dow AgroSciences LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana). This procedure consists of notching the woody stem with a small hatchet completely through the bark and applying a small amount of herbicide into the notch. Frilling is preferred to other herbicide treatments because of the small amount of herbicide needed and because of its local application. Broadcast herbicides were not considered.

Our ultimate goal is to bring the bogs into a condition in which fire every two or three years alone will be sufficient to keep them open. We are monitoring all sites using photopoints and counting Parnassia, Zigadenus, and Sarracenia flowering stems. The results so far are clear: opening up an area leads to more prolific blooming in all species. For example, to our knowledge the two Zigadenus populations had never bloomed, but after treatment one flowered in 2000 and both flowered in 2001. The same was the case for Sarracenia and Parnassia: clearing and burning led to a dramatic increase in flowering.


The region "north of the Red River" probably never had many bogs. Sarracenia alata is known from only 11 sites (we have already mentioned 10 of these: an additional site "6 miles east of Campti" (Goldsby s.n. [NATC]) is known only from an herbarium specimen of Sarracenia alata). The reasons for the paucity of bogs in this region of Louisiana are not clear since there appears to be suitable habitat.

Lynn's and Lewis Klein's bogs appear to be typical of bogs of this size in the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Combined, they had 108 species: 93 species at Lynn's Bog and 91 species at Lewis Klein's Bog. Asteraceae, Cyperaceae, and Poaceae dominated. Sorenson's Index of Similarity between Lewis Klein's and Lynn's bogs is 85, indicating that they are the same plant community. Although both sites lacked such common bog genera as Utricularia, Burmannia, Lycopodiella, Pinguicula, Lachnocaulon, and Bartonia, with only cursory surveys of the other bogs in this area we found Lycopodiella, Burmannia, Uticularia, and Lachnocaulon at one or more of them. Thus, absence of these genera at the study sites might be due to local extinction or they may never have reached them. There are not many hillside bogs in this region of Louisiana, and these have been badly damaged through fire suppression and local forestry practices. Also, these bogs are on the periphery of this community's range. In the late 1980s we surveyed Strange Road Bog, at that time the only known high quality pitcher plant bog north of the Red River (MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1988). It had only a few species more than Lynn's or Lewis Klein's bogs. In time, we hope to bring these bogs back to their original healthy condition.
TABLE 1. Plants of Lynn's and Lewis Klein's bogs (L=Lynn's Bog,
K=Lewis Klein's Bog). No designation indicates that the species occurs
in both bogs.

ACERACEAE: Acer rubrum.
ANACARDIACEAE: Toxicodendron vernix.
APIACEAE: Eryngium integrifolium, Oxypolis rigidior, Ptilimnium
AQUIFOLIACEAE: Ilex opaca (L), I. vomitoria.
ASCLEPIADACEAE: Asclepias rubra.
ASTERACEAE: Boltonia diffusa, Coreopsis linifolia, C. tripteris,
 Doellingeria umbellata, Eupatorium fistulosum, E. leucolepis, E.
 perfoliatum (K), E. rotundifolium, Helianthus angustifolius, Liatris
 pycnostachya, Marshallia graminifolia, Pityopsis graminifolia.
 Solidago patula var. strictula (L), S. rugosa, Symphyiotrichum
BETULACEAE: Alnus serrulata.
BLECHNACEAE: Woodwardia areolata (L), W. virginica (L).
CAMPANULACEAE: Lobelia puberula var. pauciflora.
CAPRIFOLIACEAE: Viburnum nudum.
CLUSIACEAE: Hypericum crux-andreae.
CORNACEAE: Nyssa biflora.
CYPERACEAE: Eleocharis tuberculosa (L), Fuirena bushii, Rhynchospora
 chalarocephala, R. globularis R. glomerata (K), R. gracilenta, R.
 inexpansa (K), R. mixta, R. rariflora (K), Scleria ciliata, S.
 reticularis, S. triglomerata.
DENNSTAEDTIACEAE: Pteridium aquilinum (L).
DROSERACEAE: Drosera brevifolia (L), D. capillaris.
ERICACEAE: Lyonia ligustrina (L), Rhododendron oblongifolium,
 Vaccinium fuscatum.
ERIOCAULACEAE: Eriocaulon decangulare.
FABACEAE: Tephrosia onobrychoides.
GENTIANACEAE: Sabatia gentianoides.
HAMAMELIDACEAE: Liquidambar styraciflua.
JUNCACEAE: Juncus scirpoides (K).
LAMIACEAE: Lycopus rubellus (K), Scutellaria integrifolia.
LAURACEAE: Persea palustris.
LILIACEAE: Aletris aurea, Hypoxis hirsuta, Melanthium virginicum,
 Zigadenus densus (K).
LINACEAE: Linum medium (K).
LOGANIACEAE: Gelsemium sempervirens, Mitreola sessilifolia.
MAGNOLIACEAE: Magnolia virginiana.
MELASTOMATACEAE: Rhexia mariana, R. petiolata.
MYRICACEAE: Morella caroliniensis, M. cerifera.
ONAGRACEAE: Ludwigia alternifolia (K), L. hirtella.
ORCHIDACEAE: Calopogon tuberosus, Platanthera ciliaris (L), P. cristata
 (K), Pogonia ophioglossoides.
OSMUNDACEAE: Osmunda cinnamomea, O. regalis.
PINACEAE: Pinus palustris, P. taeda.
POACEAE: Aristida purpurascens var. virgata (L), Dichanthelium
 acuminatum, D. dichotomum, D. scoparium, Eragrostis spectabilis (K),
 Panicum anceps, P. verrucosum, P. virgatum, Paspalum floridanum, P.
 laeve (L), P. praecox (K), Saccharum giganteum, Schizachyrium
POLEMONIACEAE: Phlox carolina ssp. angusta (L).
POLYGALACEAE: Polygala cruciata.
ROSACEAE: Photinia pyrifolia, Rubus sp.
RUBIACEAE: Diodia virginiana (K).
SARRACENIACEAE: Sarracenia alata.
SAXIFRAGACEAE: Parnassia grandifolia (K).
SCROPHULARIACEAE: Agalinis fasciculata.
SMILACACEACE: Smilax laurifolia.
SPHAGNACEAE: Sphagnum sp.
VERBENACEAE: Callicarpa americana.
VIOLACEAE: Viola primulifolia.
XYRIDACEAE: Xyris ambigua, X. baldwiniana, X. difformis var. curtissii
 (L), X. scabrifolia (L), X. torta (L).

TABLE 2. Soils of Lewis Klein's and Lynn's bogs.

 Exchangeable ions (ppm) Organic
 Bog pH P K Ca Mg (%)

Lynn's 4.2 3 20 188 57 1.9
Lewis Klein's 4.8 6 41 427 150 2.4

TABLE 3. Rare and noteworthy species found in the bogs.

Gentiana saponaria. Bottle gentian, while probably not particularly
 rare in Louisiana, is not frequently encountered. This may be because
 it blooms in mid-winter. We found it in one of the Natchitoches
 Parish bogs.
Phlox carolina ssp. angusta. While not listed as state rare, thick-leaf
 phlox is known from only one other parish in Louisiana (Thomas and
 Allen 1998). (Winn Parish: MacRoberts & MacRoberts 4487 [to be
Parnassia grandifolia. In a previous paper (MacRoberts et al. 1997), we
 describe the only known site grass-of-parnassus in Louisiana.
 Subsequently we have located it in two sites close to the original
 location, one being Lewis Klein's Bog. Parnassia grandifolia is state
 critically imperiled and globally rare. The population within Lewis
 Klein's Bog is very small and did not flower in 1999, 2000, or 2001.
Sarracenia alata. Prior to this work, pitcher plants had not been found
 in Winn Parish. There are now three sites known for the species in
 the extreme northwestern section of that parish. Two may have once
 constituted a single population but a road has long divided the two
 bogs. (Winn Parish: MacRoberts & MacRoberts 3752 [NLU], 3753 JESU]).
Xyris scabrifolia. We found rough-leaved yellow-eyed grass, a state
 imperilled, globally rare species, in several of the northern Winn
 District bogs. (Winn Parish: MacRoberts & MacRoberts 3754 [NLU], 3755
Zigadenus densus. Black deathcamas, a state imperilled species, was
 found in 1998 in Lewis Klein's Bog. There is one other location for
 the species nearby (MacRoberts et al. in press). (Natchitoches
 Parish: MacRoberts & MacRoberts 4386 [to be deposited]).


The work was supported by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant Headwater Plant Community Restoration 99-100-011, Chief's Grant 08-99-06-CCS-003, and grant number 08-99-06-CCS-007 National Forest Foundation. Steve Lynch's computer efforts with photographs were indispensable. This paper is dedicated to the memory of Lewis Klein: friend, colleague, mentor.


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Barbara R. MacRoberts and Michael H. MacRoberts
Bog Research
740 Columbia
Shreveport, LA 71104 and
Museum of Life Sciences
Louisiana State University in Shreveport
Shreveport, LA 71115

Lynn Stacey Jackson
U.S.D.A. Forest Service
Kisatchie National Forest
Winn Ranger District
Winnfield, LA 71483
COPYRIGHT 2001 Louisiana Academy of Sciences
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:MacRoberts, Barbara R.; MacRoberts, Michael H.; Jackson, Lynn Stacey
Publication:The Proceedings of the Louisiana Academy of Sciences
Geographic Code:1U7LA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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