Helonias bullata

The photograph today is courtesy of Michael Hogan (aka hoganphoto@Flickr), who submitted it via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool (original photo). Thank you for sharing, Michael.

Swamp-pink is a threatened species throughout its entire range of the eastern USA (from Delaware to Georgia), primarily due to habitat destruction. New Jersey, where today’s photograph was taken, contains both the most and the largest remaining populations (a “stronghold“, partly due to the Pinelands National Reserve). Like yesterday’s alpine-groundsel, the common name suggests its habitat: “…wetland habitats. These include Atlantic white-cedar swamps; Blue Ridge swamps; swampy forested wetlands which border small streams; meadows, and spring seepage areas. The plant requires habitat which is saturated, but not flooded, with water…” (via the Center for Plant Conservation’s fact sheet on Helonias bullata).

This Trillium relative is a herbaceous perennial species. Evergreen leaves grow near the ground in a rosette, so can be hidden and protected by leaf-litter and snow during the winter and early spring. A single flowering stalk is produced, reaching as high as 90cm (3ft.) while in bloom (mid-April to June) and even higher (to 150cm) in fruit.

Additional photographs of swamp-pink can be seen on Michael’s site: Helonias bullata (includes close-ups and habitat threats) or the site of Steve Greer: Helonias bullata.

Helonias bullata

5 responses to “Helonias bullata”

  1. John Rail

    Gorgeous!
    Thank you.

  2. Bonnie

    Wow. I’d never seen or heard of such a plant. It looks magical!

  3. Jessica

    What a beautiful photo of a little piece of swampy Jersey heaven. The whole Jersey Pine Barrens and other New Jersey wetlands areas are full of magic and wonderful, rare plants. This one is just gorgeous. I hope the protection projects are successful.
    Thanks so much for highlighting this jewel.

  4. Jessica

    This entry also points out the importance of Latin nomenclature. When I saw that this plant was called “Swamp Pink”, I was a little confused. The only “Swamp Pink” that I was familiar with is an orchid, a lovely little plant that also grows in the Eastern US. Arethusa bulbosa. Remarkably, it also grows in boggy, sphagnum wetlands.
    When is a Pink not a Pink? (And, neither is technically a “Pink” Caryophyllaceae) Sighhhhhhhhhh
    OK My brain hurts, now. LOL

  5. julie plunkett

    Lovely – so sweet … we use another species of Helonias in herbal medicine and it is so valuable – but unfortunately it is “at risk” in the wild and folks are now cultivating it for medicinal use (please do not pick it in the wild!) … very valuable in women’s health … thanks!

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