Sunday, January 13, 2013

Purple Pitcher Plant

The purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is a carnivorous plant that is a member of the Sarraceniaceae family. It is found in the US along the East Coast and the Great Lakes regions as well as the south eastern two thirds of Canada. It is sometimes called the northern pitcher plant because it is the only member of its genus that is found in colder climates.  
The purple pitcher plant is found in boggy habitats. Because the soil in bogs is usually poor in minerals and other nutrients the pitcher plant has evolved to find an alternative source of nutrients. The leaves of the pitcher plant form a cup or pitcher shape. New leaves, which are green like in the first pic, can produce digestive enzymes which collect in the pitcher. The plants then produce a sweet smell which entices insects, like the purplish fritillary above. When smaller insects try to feed they often slip on the slick leaves and fall into the liquid in the pitcher where they are slowly digested. 
 As the leaves age they turn purple and can no longer produce digestive enzymes. Instead they collect rain water which drowns the small insects which fall into the pitcher. The insects are then devoured by insect larva that live in the water that has collected. pitcher plant mosquitoes larva, midge larva and flesh flies devour the trapped prey leaving small amounts of nutrients which the plant absorbs to survive.
The purple pitcher plant flower is also unique. As it blooms it forms an umbrella shaped style. The heavy bloom soon bends the stem over, leaving the style under the ovary where it catches pollen and nectar. Pollinating insects enter the flower through windows in between the leaves and the style where they land. This helps to ensure that the insect will attract pollen on to its body so that it will pollinate the next flower that it visits. In the photo above you get a good view of what the ovary looks like.  


10 comments:

LisaS said...

Beautiful close-ups!

troutbirder said...

A fascinating plant for sure. Methinks the tundra swan migration was a little down this year... or I was too early.

Chris Twyman and Angela said...

you are always so informative and with great images to boot!thankyou

lorik said...

It is interesting the way the pattern of the plant is similar to that of the butterfly - a trick of nature to confuse them? Beautiful colour too! Thank you for sharing it on Mandarin Orange Monday:)

Nicola Carpenter said...

Beautiful pictures. I really like the one with the butterfly.

Herding Cats

Carol L McKenna said...

Beautiful and professional photography as always ~

(A Creative Harbor) on blogger ^_^

chai-and-chardonnay.blogspot.com said...

...again I learned something new! Thanks and as an addition the shots are great.

DeniseinVA said...

Fascinating post about a very interesting plant. Thanks for sharing and have a great week :)

HoodPhoto said...

Gorgeous macro! Great colors!

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