Filed under: Sarracenia — Tags: — David @ 9:44 pm

Sarracenia or American Pitcher Plants are known for their tall trumpet-shaped pitchers that comes in a variety of colors depending on its species. They are also known for their brilliant flowers. This is in addition to the fact that they are carnivorous. Their leaves are modified into a pitcher tube or trumpet shape and it grows from the rhizome of the plant on the ground. They do not have stems or vines. The pitchers of an American Pitcher Plant can grow over 1 meter tall.

Sarracenia Sarracenia psittacina

The leaves of most species survive only one year and die back to the ground during winter when they go into dormancy.


American Pitcher Plants are passive carnivores taking advantage of the pitfall method of capturing insects, much like its cousin the Tropical Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes). However, the trapping mechanism of the various species can vary significantly from one species to another. Basically, they use misdirection, dangerous and slippery surface, nectar and scent. The colorful pitchers also mimic flowers to attract nectar-loving insects.

Sarracenia purpurea Sarracenia flava coppertop Sarracenia minor hybrid

Two species have adopted a different strategy in capturing insects. They are the Parrot Pitcher Plant (S. psittacina) and Hooded Pitcher Plant (S. minor). The entrance into their traps is angled facing down and located under the hood of the trap. When an insect wanders into the pitcher, it will find itself in a chamber confusingly illuminated on all sides through translucent patches on the pitcher. The insect soon discovers that it is trapped and starts frantically to escape. As it struggles, it falls deeper into the pitcher and into the fluid. It drowns in the fluid and enzymes produced by the pitcher breakdown its soft tissues. The plant then absorbs the juice for growth.

Sarracenia flava oranata flower Sarracenia stevensii flower S. leucophylla flower


American Pitcher Plants are found at the coastal plains of eastern and southeastern states in United States America with the exception of the Purple Pitcher Plant (S. purpurea) that is found in the north along the seaboard into the upper Midwest and Canada.

They grow in open areas that are permanently wet such as acidic wetlands, swamps and grassy savannas. The water in these areas is low in dissolved nutrient and the media where they grow consists of sand and sphagnum peat.

The climate is warm-temperate and these areas receive rain for much of the year. Summers are warm and humid while winter is cool and frosty. In the Northern range, the Purple Pitcher Plant experience extreme winter conditions with a lot of snow.

Find out more

For more information about Sarracenia, check out the disccussion in the Sarracenia board here.



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