The Samaan Grove Wetland System
by Kevin Kenny - Click images to enlarge
Bog Plants 1
The bog plants of Samaan Grove are diverse and are meant to
clean surface water runoff. We also wanted to create a water
garden that would improve land values and foster a good relationship
between the residents and the natural environment. The following
is a brief description of the plants you will find at Samaan
Grove as of the date of this report. We will continue to search
for other plants that are attractive and improve the effectiveness
of the wetland system. We may also eliminate some species which
become too difficult to handle.
Rushes, Sedges. Throughout the length and breath of
the island you will see rushes growing in conditions ranging
from damp soil to drains with water depths of up to .5 meters
(1.5 feet). They are very aggressive and will dominate any area.
The only time we ever saw them recede was at the first wetland
SWW#5, where the local rabbit grass dominated and eventually
smothered the rushes. These grass-like plants of the Cyperaceae
are better known by their more common name, sedges. Creeping
rhizomes, three-sided stalks and an inflorescence composed of
a series of scales (each one subtending an individual flower)
Corkscrew rush, Juncus effusus spiralis. We
imported seeds from the US and gave them to Peter Moll at the
San Antonio Nursery, Port of Spain, Trinidad, to propagate. It
turned out to be one of the easier of the imported plants to
grow from seed.
Juncus effusus spiralis >
Cattail, Typha latifolia. We have not yet introduced
cattails to the wetlands because of their very aggressive nature.
We plan to do so as the bog areas develop. They will grow in
water depths of up to .3 metres (1 foot). Cattails produce extensive
fleshy rhizomes, with stems growing to 2.7 metres (9 feet). They
provide an excellent breeding habitat for many water fowl and
cover for the more shy species.
Swamp fern, Acrostichum aureum, grows all over
Trinidad and Tobago. Plants appeared naturally and were not transplanted.
They exist in the wetlands at Buccoo, Pigeon Point and at Tobago
American lotus, Nelumbo lutea. These plants were
grown from seeds purchased on EBay. At first we had great difficulty
getting the plants to grow. They developed a white fungus which
enveloped the seed, eventually causing the new roots and stems
to rot. We overcame this problem with regular water changes and
were able to get a number of full sized plants.
They were transported to Tobago and placed in the lake at Petit
Trou Point at Tobago Plantations awaiting the completion of the
lakes at Samaan Grove. We were delayed in getting the Samaan
Grove ponds finished on time, and the plants eventually grew
out of their pots and spread all over the deeper areas of the
holding pond. At different times of the year we noticed a die-off
of the leaves which, when first observed, caused us some concern.
Within a month or two they would spring back to life, growing
new leaves all over the pond.
Lotus at Petit Trou Point, Tobago Plantations
This new growth corresponded to the periods when there was a
flow of fresh water entering the pond at the start of the rainy
season. It has taken some time for the aerial leaves to develop
as the waterlilies and rushes at the edge of this pond kept them
in the deeper water. Eventually we were able to retrieve some
tubers from the edge of the pond. We transplanted them into a
pot in the Tobago office pond P-24 where they have done very
well. We plan to introduce these plants next year in SWW#6.
Purple Pickerel Rush, Pontederia cordata. We got
these Pontederias from Peter Moll. The photograph at the
right, taken in May 2004, shows the preparation of the area where
we planned to place these wonderful bog plants. We added 15 centimetres
(6 inches) of top soil to the clay pond liner to provide a good
substrate for them to grow in. We chose to plant them right at
the edge of the shelf as we were uncertain they would survive
when not immersed. We placed 12 plants approximately 1 metre
(3 feet) apart allowing room for them to develop and spread.
The plants seem to love the conditions as can be seen in the
picture below right taken in January 2006, eight months after
planting. At the end of dry season in May 2006, when the water
was at its lowest, we were pleased to see that they continued
to do well.
The first planting on the edge of the shelf
This shelf area dries out in the dry season with the pond dropping
about .5 meters (1.5 feet), exposing parts of the shelf. What
is especially good about these plants is that they make excellent
habitat for the water fowl. Both common gallinule and black-bellied
tree ducks have been seen with young in this area although no
actual nests have yet been found.
May 2006 at the end of the dry season
You can see the waterline clearly marked on the plants.
Pink Pickerel Rush, Pontederia cordata pink form,
has not done as well. The 12 plants we received were placed east
of the purple in similar conditions. Perhaps because of their
smaller size they seem to have problems with the water depth.
We have since transferred some of them to shallower water to
see if their growth rate improves. The picture on the right shows
when they were first planted. After we started to lose some of
the plants we transplanted one into a container at the office
and it has done quite well.
What is of interest is that when we transplanted both the
purple and pink into the same container. The purple quickly dominated
the space, forcing us to remove it and place it in a separate
container. Once this was done the growth rate of the pink improved
and the plant seemed less stressed. This may also be the reason
that the pink did not do well in the pond. In order to help them
through their first season we placed two pond tabs next to each
of the plants regularly to give them a boost, after which they
were left to fend for themselves.
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