Sarracenia purpurea

Purple Pitcher Plant
Adaptation and Symbiosis
Price Code: 
$6.50/4" pot
In Stock

Sarracenia purpurea, commonly known as the purple pitcher plant, northern pitcher plant, or side-saddle flower, is an insectivorous plant in the family Sarraceniaceae. Ours are seed grown, derived from subspecies venosa and subspecies purpurea, so they will be variable, but elegant.

This is the only pitcher plant to grow as far north as Alaska, northwest Canada and upstate New York.  Native in Maryland in Garrett and Anne Arundel counties.

Plants should only receive rainwater, snowmelt or distilled water.

From Wikipedia: Its range includes the Eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast of the United States, the Great Lakes region, all of Canada (except Nunavut and Yukon), Washington state, and Alaska. That makes it the most common and broadly distributed pitcher plant, as well as the only member of the genus that inhabits cold temperate climates. The species is the floral emblem of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador and was introduced into bogs in parts of Ireland, where it has proliferated.

It is an introduced and naturalized species in northern California. It is found in habitats of the native carnivorous species Darlingtonia californica, in the Klamath Mountains and northern Sierra Nevada.

Like other species of Sarracenia, S. purpurea obtains most of its nutrients through prey capture. However, prey acquisition is said to be inefficient, with less than 1% of the visiting prey captured within the pitcher. Even so, anecdotal evidence by growers often shows that pitchers quickly fill up with prey during the warm summer months. Prey fall into the pitcher and drown in the rainwater that collects in the base of each leaf.

Prey items such as flies, ants, spiders, and even moths, are then digested by an invertebrate community, made up mostly by the mosquito Wyeomyia smithii and the midge Metriocnemus knabi, a good an example of commensalism.

Oldest known illustration of Sarracenia purpurea, from Clusius's Rariorum plantarum historia, cf. 18, 1601

Protists, rotifers (including Habrotrocha rosa), and bacteria form the base of inquiline food web that shreds and mineralizes available prey, making nutrients available to the plant. New pitcher leaves do produce digestive enzymes such as hydrolases and proteases, but as the individual leaves get older into their second year, digestion of prey material is aided by the community of bacteria that live within the pitchers.


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