Swamp pink, Helonias bullata
Photograph by Richard Wiegand
The swamp pink has often been called one of eastern North America’s most beautiful wildflowers. A perennial of the lily family, it occurs in acidic wetlands from New Jersey south to Georgia. The swamp pink can grow only in wetlands with perennially saturated – but not flooded – soils. This dependence on an uncommon habitat type restricts the plant to small, scattered populations throughout its range.
The swamp pink grows in forested wetlands of Maryland’s coastal plain. In April, its bright pink flowers bloom among the emerging skunk cabbage leaves. Four populations are currently known, two in Cecil County and two in Anne Arundel County. It was classified as an Endangered Species by the State of Maryland in 1987. Development of wetlands has been the major threat to the species, listed as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1988. With its status as a federally protected species, there is new hope for the preservation and recovery of this magnificent wildflower.
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