Hottonia Bottoms Preserve is located in south central Oklahoma on the Antlers Aquifer, a large sand landform in the Red River drainage basin. This preserve also sits within the Upper West Gulf Coastal Plain ecoregion, spanning portions of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Behind The Name
The preserve’s name Hottonia Bottoms comes from its ecologically rich bottomland hardwood forest community and Hottonia inflata, the American featherfoil, a biologically interesting and attractive native aquatic plant found on the property. Hottonia inflata is one of many rare plant species found on wetlands in the immediate area.
The Life It Protects
Habitats in this ecoregion may contain more than 30 plant species per square meter – a density on par with tropical forests – making it one of the most biologically rich natural systems on Earth.
Hottonia inflata is a very beautiful and extraordinarily interesting aquatic wildflower. At first glance, it appears to be just floating on the water’s surface; however, there is an underwater stem and root system. You are most likely to come across featherfoil inhabiting shallow pools, ditches, swamps, [oxbow] lakes, and beaver ponds. Generally sporadic in occurrence, featherfoil occurs disjunct on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains: Maine to Georgia, west to east Texas, and northward up the Mississippi River to Missouri and Illinois, and then up the Ohio River. There are only a few known occurrences: Indiana (two occurrences), Ohio (possibly extirpated), and West Virginia (one occurrence). Much of the wildflowers' historical habitat has been lost to development, draining of wetlands, siltation, and the historical unsustainable harvest of beavers throughout its range.
Rare animal species include goldstripe darter, western chicken turtle, and the American Burying Beetle, a federally-listed endangered species. The property also provides high-quality habitat for migratory birds in the central flyway.
Bottomland hardwood forests are the most biologically productive ecosystems on land (second only to coastal estuaries). Clear Boggy Creek, a tributary to the Muddy Boggy River, flows along the preserve’s boundary. Rivers and streams are the lifeblood of these forested bottoms, flowing across the floodplain during spring floods and leaving behind soil, seeds from upstream forests, and sediments that become natural fertilizer for plants. These rich, moist soils nourish an explosion of biological diversity.
Conservation In Action
The Nature Conservancy’s overarching conservation objectives for Hottonia Bottoms are to maintain and manage for habitat and biological diversity through land protection. Land stewardship activities will focus on maintaining the existing assemblage of habitat types through the use of conservation tools such as prescribed fire, invasive species management, species surveys and ecological monitoring.
The value of this property includes flood control, erosion control, protection of water quality, and habitat for many bird and aquatic species. Southern Oklahoma’s bottomland hardwoods are an important economic resource for the state.
Threats to the area include habitat fragmentation or destruction, incompatible logging/silvicultural practices, altered hydrologic regime, soil erosion, sedimentation, poor water quality, invasive species, alteration of natural fire, and grazing.