After many years on my "To do" list, I finally visited a S. purpurea purpurea site in PA that I last visited ~30 years ago (yikes - it's been a while!!). When I 1st visited this location, it was a floating sphagnum bog undergoing a successional process. Trees rimmed the bog and after a transitional area to the floating mat (very scary btw*), there was a rim of brush (3-8 ft tall) with a shagnum 'meadow' in the middle w/ mats of sphagnum, a very low-growing shrub layer and thousands of S. purpurea purpurea plants.
My recent visit was an experience in attempting to navigate a virtually impenetrable tangle of brush. After successfully crossing the still-present transitional zone (and still very scary), I entered a zone of very thick brush, 4 ft ferns growing under the brush canopy and the occasional tree (some pines, some hardwoods, some dead snags of both). After crawling toward the 'meadow' area for over an hour, I realized it may not be present any longer. I located a pine and after managing to get to the lower branches (~ 9-10 ft up), I was able to survey the bog. The meadow area had completely disappeared and with it, apparently so did all of the S. purpurea purpurea - victims of the successional process.
I spent between 2-3 hours and managed to cover less than 70 yards into this amazing tangle of swamp greenery. I did have chickadees come within 2 feet to check out what was making the racket in the brush. Given that this thicket was still on a floating mat and water was everywhere, there were a **few** mosquitos keeping me company.
* - for those unfamiliar w/ floating sphagnum bogs. There is frequently a transitional area between the shore and the floating mat. This area can be 0 to 10 ft wide. The tricky part is the edge of the mat is often made up of a thin layer of living & dead plant debris that is not capable of supporting a person. There is really no way to test the layer due to the water gap. It's usually best to try and locate a bridge log that crosses the gap. However, even when it appears that you are on a substantial footing, it's not unusual for a foot to break through (and find no bottom). Probably not the best place for solo explorations .....