Northern Ontario Plant Database
Sarracenia purpurea L.
En: pitcher plant, huntsman's cup
Sarraceniaceae (Pitcher Plant Family)
General: A perennial insectivorous forb, to 5 dm tall. Outer surface of leaves and flowering stalk (scape) smooth (glabrous). The pitcher plant is the provincial flower of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Leaves: Basal, simple, but highly modified, coriaceous trap-leaves, 1–2 dm long. The expanded trap-leaf is pitcher-shaped, hollow, open at the top and hooded, the base gradually tapers to a short petiole. The pitcher collects rainwater in which insects drown. The outer surface of the pitcher is green, usually heavily veined with red, or completely dark red; a prominent wing extends along the length of the upper surface of the pitcher. The inside of the pitcher has two distinct zones; below the water level, the surface is smooth and slippery and bears digestive glands, which secrete enzymes into the water that dissolve the drowned insects; the upper half is lined with stiff, downward pointing hairs that prevent insects from crawling out of the pitcher; the rim of the pitcher is smooth and curved under (revolute); the broad, erect hood is ovate to kidney-shaped (reniform) and bears ear-like (auriculate) lobes adjacent to the rim; the margin of the hood is entire to somewhat undulate.
Flowers: Bisexual, solitary, nodding, 3–7 cm wide, subtended by 3 small bracts; the flower stalk (scape) 3–5 dm long. Sepals 5, stiff, persistent, often mistaken for petals, green to deep red, ovate, with blunt to rounded tips; petals 5, oblong to obovate, with a narrow attachment, rich velvety red to deep reddish-purple, rarely yellow; stamens numerous, hidden beneath the expanded style; pistil 1, with a globose, 5-chambered, superior ovary, topped by a large 5-angled, umbrella-shaped style, attached to the ovary at the centre (peltate). Stigmatic surfaces occur on the under surface of the style. Flowers bloom in mid summer.
Fruit: A dry, globose capsule.
Habitat and Range: Sphagnum bogs, peaty hummocks in fens, and serpentine barrens. The pitcher plant occurs across Canada; its range extends throughout much of northern Ontario, as far north as the Fawn River, 54° 40' N (Scoggan 1978).
Internet Images: The Sarracenia purpurea webpage from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.
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