Walt's Look Around: Buttercup Flats - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: Buttercup Flats

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Every once in a while on our way back home from the coast, we'll take a "long cut" as opposed to a short cut, up Highway 15 northward from Biloxi into Stone County. I like Stone County for several reasons. It is pretty rural for one thing. And seeing cows and their accompanying egrets has a calming effect. These particular cows are next to an old cemetery that has some unusual grave markers made from wood. If there were ever names and dates written on the wood, all of that is long gone, now. We heard about the wooden markers years ago and it was only because I actually did what Ms. Jo insisted and stopped and asked directions that we ever found the place. Okay. That's one. 

But there where Highway 15 intersects Highway 26, about 7 or 8 miles from our cemetery, about half way between Wiggins and Benndale, is a wooded area known as Buttercup Flats. And at Buttercup Flats are acres and acres of one of the state's most unusual plants. These are pitcher plants. And not only are they unusually shaped with their long fluted throat and then umbrella flap over top, but they have an unusual diet. They eat insects, partly to supplement their nutrition, which tends to be on the sparse side because they prefer to grow in bogs and in wet sandy loam and other soils that aren't all that rich. So, the pitcher plants entice insects to climb into their throats that are made in such a way that it's a one way trip in. Never mind what happens to them in the little pool of liquid at the bottom, except if it's mosquitoes, it is what they deserve. 

Heather Sullivan from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science says the variety at Buttercup Flats known as "sweet yellow" is not on the endangered list. But other varieties of pitcher plants that grow in South Mississippi are. But it's still not a good idea to try to dig one up off the side of the road and transplant ‘em back home. For one thing, this is private property, and Heather also says they are wild plants and attempts to tame them usually aren't successful and they'll end up dying. Besides, you can buy them already in pots pretty much where ever they sell plants. 

But no matter how many you raise at home, you're not likely to see this many in your yard. And in April, when they pop up their new yellow flowers for spring, you can understand why they call this Buttercup Flats.  

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