Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marsh Pink, Sabatia

Marsh pink (Sabatia dodecandra) and copper top pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava)
My bog in a bowl

This is what I came home with after spending a fun and entertaining weekend back in June learning about native wetland plants—a tiny bog!

Crowded into that little bowl are three pitcher plants (Sarracenia flava, S. purpurea, S. leukophylla), two Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula, a red-leaved type and a green), bog buttons (Eriocaulon sp.), orange milkwort (Polygala lutea), pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides, an orchid!),
spoonleaf sundew (Drosera spatulata, the only non-native of all of these), threadleaf sundew (Drosera filiformis), and the plant below which I bring to your attention today, the marsh pink.

Marsh pink, with an insect which took up residence for the entire blooming period.

Marsh pink (Sabatia dodecandra) is the tall plant at the center of my bowl. A couple of weeks after I brought it home, it started to bloom, topping the bowl with a hazy lavender-pink layer of flowers that lasted for weeks.

Marsh pink grows in the pine savannas of eastern North Carolina.* The flowers have 8 to 12 petals with bright yellow, faintly red-lined bases. The green ovary with an usual twisted and divided style can be seen at the very center of the flower. There is a whorl of green bracts underneath each blossom.

The plant typically reaches one to two feet in height, but can grow to almost a meter. The branches alternate along the stems and the flowers are at the tips of each branch.

Besides my resident insect, butterflies like marsh pink. It has a delicate fragrance which, combined with it's general loveliness, attracts  another form of wildlife—people! (aka propagators)

Even in its native habitat, marsh pink it isn't overly common, which is a good reason to grow it, if you can provide the wet conditions it prefers. My bowl has a mixture of sand and peat, with a little more peat than sand. There are drainage holes so that it doesn't sit in water, but the mix is watered every two or three days so that it stays damp and never completely dries out.

Just now my plant is setting seed which I will save and try to grow more next year. It is a hardy  perennial (to approx. 0 degrees F), so my original plant should return in the spring, too.

*The Green Swamp Nature Preserve in Brunswick County, NC, is a good place to see pine savannas, pocosins, and many of North Carolina's most wonderful native wetland plants.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday at Clay and Limestone.


  1. Beautiful pictures. Everything pretty much shriveled up and died here in Texas.

  2. ann, thank you! texas has had such a rough summer. i hope you get lots of rain this fall and a fresh start next spring.