|Sarracenia oreophila subsp. var.||Bugle grass, Frog bonnets, Green pitcher plant|
Sarracenia oreophila, also known as the Green Pitcher Plant, is a carnivorous plant in the genus Sarracenia. Like all the Sarracenia, it is native to the New World. S. oreophila is the most endangered of all Sarracenia species, its range limited to a handful of sites in northern Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Like other members of the genus Sarracenia, the Green Pitcher Plant traps insects using a tubular rolled leaf which collects digestive juices at the bottom. The pitcher tube of this species is similar to that of Sarracenia flava, but has a wider pitcher mouth and neck and is usually somewhat shorter, reaching only 60 cm. (24 in). The uppermost part of the leaf is flared into a lid (the operculum), which prevents excess rain from entering the pitcher and diluting the digestive secretions within. The upper regions of the pitcher are covered in short, stiff, downwards-pointing hairs, which serve to guide insects alighting on the upper portions of the leaf towards the opening of the pitcher tube. The opening of the pitcher tube is retroflexed into a 'nectar roll' or peristome, whose surface is studded with nectar-secreting glands. Prey entering the tube find that their footing is made extremely uncertain by the smooth, waxy secretions found on the surfaces of the upper portion of the tube. Insects losing their footing on this surface plummet to the bottom of the tube, where a combination of digestive fluid, wetting agents and inward-pointing hairs prevent their escape. Some large insects (such as wasps) have been reported to escape from the pitchers on occasion, by chewing their way out through the wall of the tube.
Pitchers can vary from all green plants to lightly and heavily veined examples, as well as clones with heavily pigmented throats. Traps also take on a pink or red flush as they age.
- See also the section on Sarracenia flowers in the main article.
In spring, the plant produces large, yellow flowers with 5-fold symmetry. The yellow petals are long and strap-like, and dangle over the umbrella-like style of the flower, which is held upside down at the end of a 50 cm long scape. The stigma of the flower are found at the tips of the 'spokes' of this umbrella. Pollinating insects generally enter the flower from above, forcing their way into the cavity between the petals and umbrella, and depositing any pollen they are carrying on the stigmata as they enter. The pollinators generally exit the flower, having been dusted with the plant's own pollen, by lifting a petal. This one-way system helps to ensure cross pollination.
In late summer and autumn, the plant stops producing carnivorous leaves, and instead produces flat, non-carnivorous phyllodia. In this species these are highly recurved. The natural habitat of this species dries quickly during July and the small phyllodia are probably easier to maintain with the little water available than its spring pitchers. This is a genetic adaptation and plants kept permanently wet in cultivation also lose their pitchers in mid summer. Also of note is the simultaneous flowering and pitchering at the beginning of the season as drier conditions prevent later growth of pitchers post flower production.
Pests and diseases
The International Carnivorous Plant Society recognizes three cultivars of this species as follows:
- S. oreophila 'Don Schnell'
- S. oreophila 'Heavily Veined'
- S. oreophila 'Sand Mountain'