Description: Swamp pink is a perennial herb in the lily family. It has a basal rosette of evergreen, strap-like leaves and an upright pink to lavender flower head. The tall flower stalks (up to 4.5 feet) appear from March to May. During the winter the leaves often turn reddish brown and lie flat or slightly raised above the ground. These winter leaves are often hidden by leaf litter, but a visible button in the center of the leaves represents the next season’s flower head.
Although the plant can reproduce by seed, most of its reproduction is by vegetative expansion of established plants. This means plants tend to grow in clumps, close to the parent plants. Seed dispersal is limited, and populations appear to expand at a very slow rate.
Habitat: A variety of wetland habitats, including mountain bogs, swampy forested wetlands bordering smalls streams, wet meadows, and spring seepage areas.
Range: Swamp pink can be found across much of New Jersey and Delaware and sporadically in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
Listing: Threatened, September 9, 1988. 53 FR 35076 35080
Critical habitat: None designated
Threats: The loss of wetlands to urban and agricultural development and timbering operations historically have been the primary threat to the species. Now, with the loss of wetlands slowed by state and federal regulations, the major threat to swamp pink at most sites is habitat degradation caused by off-site disturbances. Some of these include off-site water withdrawal for irrigation, increased siltation from the inadequate control of soil erosion, and in the introduction of excess nutrients or chemicals into the water. Trampling and collecting also threaten the species.
Why should we be concerned about the loss of species? Extinction is a natural process that has been occurring since long before the appearance of humans. Normally, new species develop through a process known as speciation, at about the same rate other species become extinct. However, because of air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other man-induced environmental changes, extinctions are now occurring at a rate that far exceeds the speciation rate.
All living things are part of a complex and interconnected network. We depend on the diversity of plant and animal life for our recreation, nourishment, many of our lifesaving medicines, and the ecological functions they provide. One-quarter of all the prescriptions written in the United States today contain chemicals that were originally discovered in plants and animals. Industry and agriculture are increasingly making use of wild plants, seeking out the remaining wild strain of many common crops, such as wheat and corn, to produce new hybrids that are more resistant to disease, pests, and marginal climatic conditions. Our food crops depend on insects and other animals for pollination. Healthy forests clean the air and provide oxygen for us to breathe. Wetlands clean water and help minimize the impacts of floods. These services are the foundation of life and depend on a diversity of plants and animals working in concert. Each time a species disappears, we lose not only those benefits we know it provided but other benefits that we have yet to realize.
What you can do to help
Species Contact:Mara Alexander
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 238
fax - 828/258-5330
160 Zillicoa St.
Asheville, NC 28801