Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lost & Found: Bog Rose

Bog Rose in NC where it was recently rediscovered
Bog Rose a.k.a Dragon's Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa) is endangered in North Carolina. Originally known from only a small handful of sites it is unclear if it still persists at most of these. Dedicated orchid enthusiasts, including Mark Rose & David McAdoo, have been searching remnant mountain bogs for nearly 20 years hoping for a glimpse of it in North Carolina.

It is unclear why this orchid has become so hard to find in NC, although Mark Rose believes heavy shrub invasion in its bog habitat may be a contributor.  In more northern parts of its range (where it is much more common), "many populations have been depleted or destroyed by over-collection. ( I recently heard of a site in Transylvania County which once had 20 or more stems, that was destroyed by silt washing in from a nearby pasture.

The site where Bog Rose has been recently re-discovered had become heavily invaded with shrubs especially Rhododendron. After protecting the site from development and other forms of incompatible land-use, we began a restoration project. Using chainsaws and machetes, we removed massive quantities of woody stems to return the site to more open condition and conducted a prescribed burn. Approximately 2 years after the bulk of the clearing the Bog Rose has re-appeared!
One of the many piles of Rhododendron stems removed from the mountain bog habitat of Arethusa.
Bog Rose plants recovering from decades of  suppression.
Photo courtesy of Jean Woods (Left)
Possibly, the last home for the Bog Rose is now a North Carolina Plant Conservation Preserve. Restoration work has produced results and this, and other, rare plants are rebounding.  At the moment only 2 flowering stems have been found. Let's hope orchid enthusiasts and collectors respect the Preserve designation and the work it has taken to restore, and leave the Bog Rose for the enjoyment of future generations

1 comment:

  1. Exciting news! I have been looking for A. bulbosa in the Pink Beds for 4 years now, with similar concerns that it's habitat was either destroyed by campers or totally grown in with woody stems. Good to know that it's rebounded!