Southern Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
The White-topped Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) is but one of several species of carnivorous plants which make their home in Gulf Coast Bogs, as can be seen in the background. This flower may attract pollinators, but does not consume them - only the leaves, or pitchers, of the plant consumes the insects. The open lid of the pitcher leaf is a distinct invitation with easy access, but the downward pointing hairs inside the pitcher make leaving quite a challenge. Photo by Rhonda Stewart, 2005.
Pale Grass-pink Orchid (Calopogon pallidus). This beautiful orchid may occasionally be seen at the Parker Springs Bog. The delicate colors of rose to purple blends in surprisingly well with other bog species. As with any wild flower, please do not pick or disturb these beautiful orchids, so that others may continue to enjoy their ephemeral beauty. Photo by Rhonda Stewart, 2001.
The carnivorous sundew, Tracy's Threadleaf Sundew (Drosera tracyii), is a sight to behold in the Parker Springs Bog. The leaves are covered with what appears to be sparkling drops of dew. In reality, however, these are a clear sticky fluid which oozes from the round knob at the tip of each hair. An insect becomes stuck to the leaf, which then slowly rolls up the better to absorb the nutrients of the insect. Photo by Rhonda Stewart, 2001.
Coastal False Asphodel (Tofieldia racemosa). This member of the lily family is a lovely and unusual species. It seems to be inhibited by shade, and flowering seems to be seasonally stimulated by fire. Photo by Rhonda Stewart, 2002.
Parker Springs Bog is a spectacular East Gulf Coastal Plain bog, part of a complex of bogs on the West Side of the Conecuh Ranger District, Alabama. In the foreground are White-topped Pitcher plants, the light "grass-like" plants are threadleaf sundews, the bright yellow in the background are Trumpens, or Yellow Pitcher plants. Hat Pins (Eriocaulon spp) and Bog Buttons (Lachnocaulon spp) can be seen dotting the landscape. An upland longleaf habitat borders the upper edge of the bog. Photo by Rhonda Stewart, 2005.
Parker Springs Bog
Forest: National Forests in Alabama
District: Conecuh Ranger District
Description: Parker Springs Bog is an excellent example of how an East Gulf Coastal Plain bog should look. Located on the western side of the Conecuh Unit, this hillside bog has been specifically managed for bog characteristics.
It is easy for plant enthusiasts to get sidetracked even before reaching the bog. Often botanical folks do not even get past the first ditches on the way to access Parker Springs Bog. Several unique species are visible immediately, but it only gets better. There is no doubt when the transition to the bog proper is reached. Even amateur visitors are highly impressed by the incredible carnivorous plant species and sheer diversity of plants to be found in this area.
Fire & water have long played important roles in shaping and maintaining the ecological health of these bog complexes, which are embedded in the longleaf pine ecosystem. Frequent prescribed burning helps regenerate and provide nutrients to the bog community. Removal of overstory trees and encroaching shrubs not only in the bog, but in the upland, allow the uplands to act as recharge areas, providing the water upon which the bog depends. Ongoing restoration and ecosystem management, often tailored specifically to the rare communities, have allowed the Conecuh National Forest to function as a biological refugia for unique, embedded communities and endemic plant species.
Viewing Information: The most impressive time to view Parker Springs Bog is in May. Although flowering of some species actually begins in February and continue through October, May seems to be the time of year when the most plant species are blooming at the same time. One might catch the late blooming of Grass-pink orchids (Calopogon spp) or the early blooming of Coastal Plain Aster (Pityopsis oligiantha). By far the most eye-catching, however, are the carnivorous plants in bloom. Several species of Pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp), Sundews (Drosera spp), Bladderworts (Utricularia spp) and Butterworts (Pinguicula spp) can be found in Parker Springs Bog.
Visitors will be enchanted with the closer views of the plants and area, and often can be heard calling out new discoveries as yet another bloom or plant is found. Parker Springs Bog is part of a rather large complex of bogs that lies around each of the feeder streams running into Brook Hines Lake. Enthusiasts may find themselves venturing quite far afield, following each new discovery and venturing further along the bog complex.
The biggest challenge may not be finding the area, but knowing when to quit. Botanists have been known to spend hours unaware of the time, only to realize they are trying to identify plants by the vehicle headlights.
Safety First: Be prepared for hot muggy weather (temperatures in the mid to upper 90s and humidity ranging from 80-100%); wear suitable clothing for the conditions, including long pants, hats and sun protection. Since some areas will be wet & muddy, waterproof boots are recommended. Drinking water is a must. Insect repellent is preferable, as there is a chance of ticks, chiggers & mosquitoes in the area. There is also a chance of the occurrence of not only non-poisonous, but a slight chance of encountering poisonous snakes such as water moccasins, canebrake rattlesnakes or coral snakes. High-topped boots are recommended. Park any vehicles well off the road.
Directions: Take Hwy 29 West out of Andalusia, Alabama. Turn South on State Hwy 137, continue to Wing, Alabama. Turn west on to county road 4, continue on until it joins with CR 11. Turn South on County Road 11 when it branches off. After about 2 ½ miles, the road with branch, with a sign Parker Springs Road/Brook Hines Lake; take the west fork (gravel/dirt road). In less than a mile, the road will fork again, bear west again. Just past where the road forks, on the south side of the road, is where Parker Springs Bog begins. On the north side of the road is private land.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service. The bog complex also occurs on the North and West side of the road, but it is on private property. Conecuh Ranger District, (334) 222-2555.
Closest Town: Andalusia, Alabama.