Purple Pitcher - Sarracenia purpurea



The pitcherplant is a perennial forb that spreads by short rhizomes. Plants form an open, spreading rosette of green leaves. The leaves are often tinged or veined with purple, and can grow to 30 cm in length. The plants flower in mid-spring, producing a solitary flower at the top of a scape 20 – 40 cm tall. The flower resembles a thick, flat disc ringed with dark, maroon petals. The plants are most noted, however, for the hollow, gibbous leaves, or pitchers, that give the plant its name.

The pitchers trap and digesting flying and crawling insects, making the species one of the few carnivorous plants in North America. The hollow pitchers fill naturally with rainwater. The pitchers also have broad lips where insects land. The insects crawl into the pitcher, where stiff, downward pointing hairs prevent them from leaving. Anecdotal evidence suggests pitchers capture less than one percent of the flies that venture into their traps, but a few insects eventually fall into the water at the base of the pitcher, where digestive enzymes secreted by the plant release the nutrients within the insects. Eventually, the nutrients are absorbed by the plant, which supplements the nutrients absorbed by the roots.

Description from: USDA/Forest Service

Photo by: Gary Kauffman

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