If for no other reason than artistic license, I’m inclined to side with those who see Sarracenia leucophylla (white-topped pitcher plant) as today’s equivalent of William Bartram’s Saracinia lacunosa, rather than those who thought that Bartram was describing Sarracenia minor (hooded pitcher plant). After all, the range of S. minor doesn’t reach the environs of Pensacola where Bartram described the plant in the 1770’s; Pensacola is firmly within the range of S. leucophylla. Either way, I propose that this scene captures something of the experience he had long ago in an unknown wet savanna of the Gulf Coast. This painting is a composite: the background reflects the openness of the Grand Bay Savanna west of Mobile Bay; the white-topped pitcher plants in the foreground are residents of the Alabama Nature Conservancy’s Splinter Hill Bog preserve, about 60 miles northwest of Pensacola. When I arrived at the bog late one evening in August 2009, I was dazzled by my first view of this spectacular carnivore, particularly by the way the light from the evening sky seemed to be caught in the glowing throats of the plants, giving them an unworldly aura. *
Visit the the Alabama Nature Conservancy’s Splinter Hill Bog Preserve. (https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/places-we-protect/splinter-hill-bog/)
* This is an excerpt from Philip’s essay appearing in: Bartram’s Living Legacy: Travels and the Nature of the South
Studio painting – October.
The Southern Frontier, Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s Travels
January 28 - May 8, 2011
May 28 - Aug 14, 2011
Morris Museum of Art
Scenes from the Southern Frontier
October 21 – December 31, 2011
The Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences
A Vision of Grasslands in the Southeast
April 25 - June 25, 2010
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Bartram’s Living Legacy: The Travels and the Nature of the South
Edited by Dorinda Dallmeyer
(Cover image, color plates, and contributing essay by Philip Juras)
Published by Mercer University Press, 2010.
Philip Juras: The Southern Frontier, Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s “Travels”
Published in conjunction with Philip’s 2011 exhibition at the Telfair Museum, Savannah, Georgia. With essays by Philip Juras, Dorinda Dallmeyer, Holly Koons McCullough – poem by Janisse Ray – foreword by Steven High. Winner of the Georgia Author of the Year Award (Specialty Book Category) from the Georgia Writers Association, 2012. Published by Telfair Books, 2011. Second printing (paperback) published by the University of Georgia Press, 2015.