North American Pitcher Plants - Sarracenia Species
 

Sarraceniais a genus comprising 8 to 11 species of North American pitcher plants. The genus belongs to the larger family Sarraceniaceae, which also contain the closely allied genera Darlingtonia or Cobra Lily and Heliamphora or Sun Pitcher.

Sarracenia is indigenous to the eastern seaboard of North America, Texas, the Great Lakes area and southeastern Canada, with most species occurring only in the south-east United States. The plant's leaves have evolved into a funnel in order to trap insects. The insects are attracted by a nectar-like secretion on the lip of funnel or pitcher, as well as a combination of color and scent. Slippery footing at the pitchers' rim, aided in at least one species by a narcotic drug lacing the nectar, causes insects to fall inside, where they die and are digested by the plant as a nutrient source.

Most species have an operculum or lid which covers at least part of the pitcher opening, thereby preventing rain from excessively filling the pitcher, which would result in the loss of prey. The operculum also serves to guide prey to the pitcher opening, using a combination of color, scent, and downward-pointing hairs to guide insects toward the trap entrance.

Sarraceniaplants produce flowers in early spring slightly ahead of the pitchers. The flowers, which depending on species are 3-10 centimeters in diameter, are dramatic and have an elaborate design which prevents self-pollination. As with so many carnivorous plants which struggle to find nutrients the Sarracenia deliberately produce flowers ahead of the pitchers so that they are not competing for insects both as food and as pollinators.

 

Vegative growth
 
Sarracenia
Clearly showing lid or operculum
Sarracenia
Clearly showing lid or operculum
Sarracenia
Clearly showing lid or operculum
------- Pitcher showing lid to prevent excessive rain from flooding pitcher -------
  
Flowers
 
Sarracenia
Flower showing complex structure to guide pollinators in via one route and out via another to prevent self polination.
Sarracenia
Flower showing complex structure to guide pollinators in via one route and out via another to prevent self polination.
Sarracenia
Flower showing complex structure to guide pollinators in via one route and out via another to prevent self polination.
Flowers clearly showing complex design to force insects
in via one route and out via another to prevent self polination.
 
Sarracenia
Flower showing complex structure to guide pollinators in via one route and out via another to prevent self polination.
Sarracenia
Flower showing complex structure to guide pollinators in via one route and out via another to prevent self polination.
Sarracenia
Spiders learn to negotiate these flowers and use them a a base to hunt insects.
Sarracenia
A group of beautiful yellow flowers.
Sarracenia
Sarracenia
A group of Sarracenis growing together
 ------- Yellow flowered variant -------