Georgia’s Natural Wonder Plants
The Okefenokee Swamp is a true wildlife refuge. The wildlife seen in the great swamp are in their natural surroundings. These are the natural inhabitants, the original inhabitants – now protected by law. Few places in America can offer as varied and extensive wildlife as this southeastern swamp. Over 200 species of birds have been identified by refuge personnel and visiting ornithologists. There are over 40 species of mammals, more than 50 species of reptiles, and 60 species of amphibians. The waters house an abundance of fish, 34 different kinds.
If an animal eats a plant, it is of no particular interest; but when a plant eats an animal, that is of interest. The fact that there are few flesh-eating plants make them fascinating and interesting to everyone.
Pitcher Plant or Fly Catcher (Saracenia flava)
The inner part of these beautiful pitchers are covered with stiff hairs and are half-filled with a liquid. The insects are attracted by the beautiful flower and the sweet fluid. The hairs on the inner surface of the pitcher allow the insect to travel down but they prevent its traveling upward and out. Therefore it continues downward into the fluid where it drowns. The plant absorbs the soft parts of the body and the skeleton remains in the bottom of the pitcher. Pitcher plants are often found with many skeletons hidden inside.
Bladderwort (Utricularia inflata)
In the springtime the prairies are carpeted in the yellow flower of the bladderwort. This plant lives in shallow waters and swamps of the Southeast. The leaves have small air sacs or bladders in which minute water creatures such as larvae, nematodes, water fleas, protozoa, and small worms are trapped. Each bladder has a small opening through which the tiny animal can enter but cannot escape. Eventually the trapped organisms die and their bodies decompose forming the nitrogenous food for the bladderwort.
Sun Dew (Drosera intermedia)
Small insects, such as gnats are attracted by the beautiful dew-like substance on the leaves of this plant. Once they have come in contact with this sticky substance, however, they cannot escape. After a short time the leaf slowly folds, completely encloses the insect and digests its body.
Other Swamp Plants include Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) , Yellow Fringed Orchid (Habenaria ciliaris), Swamp Iris (Iris caroliniana), Grass Pink (Calopogon pulchellus), Water Lily (Castalia odorata), Red Choke Berry (Pyrus arbutifolia), and many more.