An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

Pitcher Plant Flowers

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The Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is a well-known carnivorous plant of bogs. It gets some of its nutrients by trapping and drowning prey in rain water that is caught inside a modified leaf that forms a cup. While most people are familiar with the leaves of Pitcher Plants, unless you visit a bog in June, you’re not likely to see their unique flower. It is curved over when it’s mature and its sepals (modified leaves that protect the bud and are located above the petals in these photographs) are red-purple and pointed; the petals are red and rounded. An approaching insect would be guided into the flower between two of the sepals–it would land on a petal and climb into the flower onto the umbrella-shaped stigma (the sticky top of the female pistil) which I inverted in one photograph in order to show the male pollen-producing stamens. An insect entering the flower would brush against the stamens, collecting pollen on its back while pollen from a previously-visited Pitcher Plant would fall off the insect onto the sticky stigma on which it was standing, pollinating the flower.

3 responses

  1. meg

    My children and I love your blog! We too found flowering Pitcher Plants yesterday while canoeing near a wetland on the outskirts of a small lake. We also found several tiny Sundew plants growing among the Pitcher Plants. Do the Sundews flower as well?
    thanks, meg

    June 18, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    • Yes, sundews have beautiful, delicate white flowers on a stalk, with one flower blooming at a time as it reaches the crest of the stalk. Do look for it — it’s striking!

      June 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm

  2. Susan Holland

    Your photographs remind me of last year’s trip to Newfoundland. The pitcher plant is the provincial flower of Newfoundland and it is everywhere! We were there too late to see it flowering, so I love seeing your photographs.

    June 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm

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