The plant sarracenia was named by the Canadian botanist, Dr Michel Sarrazin, who first discovered it. It is better known as the pitcher plant, this being descriptive of its unique leaf shape.
Different species of the plant grow to different heights and vary in colour according to their native environment, but they all have the distinctive ‘pitcher’ features of a pale green outer leaf streaked with colour, a fringed cap and a particular scent that is very attractive to insects.
Sarracenia plants are native to the South American coastline, except for sarracenia purpurea which grows prolifically in the northern United States and Canada. The plants prefer very wet terrain and grow naturally in bogs, swamps and permanently damp meadowland.
The pitcher plant displays distinct seasonal characteristics – it flowers in the spring and begins producing carnivorous leaves from late spring to early autumn. At the end of autumn it grows non-carnivorous leaves, which remain during a period of winter dormancy.
The family name is sarraceniaceae and there are a total of eight identified species, the most common of which is sarracenia purpurea (purple pitcher plant). Other popular ones include sarracenia alata (pale), flava (yellow), oreophila (green), psittacina (parrot) and rosea (red).
Pitcher plants thrive best in a mix of two parts sphagnum moss peat to one part perlite. They are considered a hardy plant and can be grown outside, ideally where there is plenty of sunlight, but will grow more quickly and become more colourful if grown in a greenhouse. Regular watering is required and the plant should never be allowed to dry out.
Did You Know?
Sarracenia purpurea is the national flower of the Canadian province of Newfoundland.
Sarracenia is a carnivorous plant that uses its pitcher-shaped leaves to collect water, which then traps insects to provide the plant with nutrition.