Purple Pitcher Plant - Sarracenia purpurea - Venosa Red 1.3 qt pot

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Purple Pitcher Plant - Sarracenia purpurea - Venosa Red 1.3 qt pot

Squat with a large lip. The pitcher lid, unlike in erect pitcher plants, does not shield the pitcher opening. Instead, the lid (hood) is erect, with a pair of lateral ear-like wings on each side of the pitcher lip. Water collects in the pitcher and insects are trapped, decomposed and partially absorbed by the plant. The flower is purplish to red. Keep moist to wet with 5 or more hours a day of direct sun.

Sarracenia purpurea, commonly known as the purple pitcher plant, northern pitcher plant, or side-saddle flower, is a carnivorous plant in the family Sarraceniaceae.

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. The species 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.[5] 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. The relationship between W. smithii and S. purpurea is an example of commensalism.[6]

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.


The species is further divided into two subspecies, S. purpurea subsp. purpurea and S. purpurea subsp. venosa. The former is found from New Jersey north, while the latter is found from New Jersey south and tolerates warmer temperatures.

In 1999, Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa var. burkii was described as a species of its own: Sarracenia rosea. This re-ranking has been debated among carnivorous plant enthusiasts since then, but further morphological evidence has supported the split. The following species and infraspecific taxa are usually recognized:

Sarracenia purpurea was used as a medicinal plant by Native American and First Nation tribes in its northeastern and Great Lakes distribution ranges, including the Algonquin, Cree, Iroquois, Mi'kmaq (Micmac) peoples.