Bogs bring together an unusual combination of water, soil, and environmental conditions to create a unique habitat. Many of the fascinating plants and animals that make their homes in the Gulf Coast pitcher plant bogs are found nowhere else on Earth.
Bog soil is fragile. Even footprints can cause damage by compressing the soil and creating areas with standing water. For this reason, we ask that visitors remain on the boardwalk as they enjoy all the bog offers. The soil in the Weeks Bay Bog is sandy and porous, and it contains little organic material. Iron compounds cause the sandy soil to be gray in color, which makes the soil appear to be far richer than it is. Because of these poor soil conditions, many of the bog plants have developed interesting and unusual ways to obtain necessary nutrients.
Carnivorous plants obtain some of their nutrients by capturing and digesting insects and other small creatures. Pitcher plants attract and drown prey within their tubular, modified leaves, while the sticky hairs on the leaves of sundews trap insects much like fly-paper would.
Visitors in early spring can expect to see the beautiful, umbrella-shaped flowers of several species of pitcher plants beginning to blossom. Late spring and summer usher in the emergence of pitchers and the blooming of many wildflowers, including several spectacular examples from the orchid family. The fall is equally as beautiful with many species of Asters providing a wash of oranges, yellows, and purples and serving as hosts for several species of butterflies.
When visiting the bog, do not be surprised to find the area recently burned. A part of Weeks Bay's restoration activities includes a yearly, prescribed burn of the bog. In their natural state, coastal pitcher plant bogs would have burned every 1-3 years during the growing season. These burns were often the result of lightning-ignited fires and helped to maintain the open, sunny habitat needed for the persistance of bog communities. While the immediate effects of a burn might appear devastating, the plants and animals that call the bog home are quick to recover.
We hope you enjoy your visit to the Weeks Bay pitcher plant bog. Please remember to take nothing but pictures!