Sunday, April 1, 2012
Louisiana Iris in NP are coming back s-l-o-w-l-y
Before hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, crowds would visit Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Barataria Unit south of Marrero, LA each April for Spring in the Swamp to see the large beds of wild Louisiana Iris blooming purple in the park's wetlands. But salt water washed in with the storms and decimated the park's wild iris population. Surviving plants were few and far between and for five years put on a disappointing show. Visitors to this year's Spring in the Park (March 31-April 1)will see more purple blooms. Not a lot more but more than the previous five years. Park rangers and volunteers say some plants are blooming in clumps of four to six, a big improvement over the solo blooms of the past five years. But they did bloom early this year so hurry to the park if you want to see this year's blooms. But the only way to see them is on foot. The many canals and waterways in the park are too clogged with vegetation to paddle through. A mild winter and a diversion of nutrient-rich water from the Mississippi River to guard against the BP oil spill from seeping into the park has clogged the Kenta, Pipeline and Coquille Canals with a thick mat of giant salvinia which is living up to its scientific name salvinia molesta..