Sarracenia purpurea

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 Sarracenia purpurea subsp. var.  Huntsman's cap, Northern pitcher plant, Sidesaddle plant
Flowering Sarracenia purpurea
Habit: herbaceous
Height: to
Width: to
10in 24in
Height: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 10 in
Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 24 in
Lifespan: perennial
Bloom: early spring, mid spring, late spring
Exposure: sun
Features: flowers
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 2 to 9
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: red, pink
Sarraceniaceae > Sarracenia purpurea var. , L.

Sarracenia purpurea — commonly known as the purple pitcher plant or side-saddle flower — is a carnivorous plant in the family Sarraceniaceae. Its range includes almost the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, the Great Lakes, and south eastern Canada, making 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.

S. purpurea

Like other species of Sarracenia, S. purpurea obtains most of its nutrients through prey capture.[1] However, prey acquisition is said to be inefficient, with less than 1% of the visiting prey captured within the pitcher.[2] 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. 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.[3][4][5] 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.[6][7]

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Sarracenia purpurea, Linn. The common pitcher-plant of the N. and the one on which the genus was founded. Fig. 3551. Pitchers ascending, in rosettes of 3-6, 2-10 in. long, widest toward middle, narrowed below and upward, green to dark purple; lid upright or slightly inclined outward with fine hispid hairs over inner lid or attractive surface; wing broad, prominent: fls. 1 1/4- 1 3/4 in. wide; sepals and petals greenish purple to purple. In wet sandy muck or by swamp margins from Labrador and Minn. to N. Fla. and Ala.; flowering from fourth week in March in N. Fla. to second week of Aug. in Lab.—Very variable in coloring from bright green in shady places to dark purple in sunny situations. According to Loddiges, writing in 1823, this species was "cultivated before the year 1640 by Tradescant, who was gardener to King Charles the First." Var. heterophylla, Eaton. Lvs. pale green: fls. yellow-green to yellow. Very rare in Mass., W. N. Y., and S. N. J. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases




  1. Prey addition alters nutrient stoichiometry of the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea, journal: Ecology, volume 86, 2005, pages 1737–1743
  3. Pitcher plant midges and mosquitoes: a processing chain commensalism, Ecology, volume 75, 1994, pages 1647–1660
  4. Mouquet, N., Daufresne, T., Gray, S. M., and Miller, T. E. (2008). Modelling the relationship between a pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) and its phytotelma community: mutualism or parasitism? Functional Ecology, 22: 728-737.
  5. Peterson, C. N., Day, S., Wolfe, B. E., Ellison, A. M., Kolter, R., and Pringle, A. (2008). A keystone predator controls bacterial diversity in the pitcher-plant (Sarracenia purpurea) microecosystem. Environmental Microbiology, 10(9): 2257-2266.
  6. Rice, Barry. (2007). About Sarracenia purpurea, the purple pitcher plant. The Carnivorous Plant FAQ. Accessed online: 21 June 2008.
  7. Gallie, D. R. and Chang, S.-C. (1997). Signal transduction in the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea. Plant Physiology, 115: 1461-1471.

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