Genus: Sarracenia

Trumpet pitcher plants grow in subtropical wetlands, bogs and marshes where it is humid and the soil is nutrient deficient. They are native throughout the east coast of America from northern Florida through to the New England states and the eastern provinces of Canada. An exception is the Sarracenia Darlingtonia that is found on the west coast in California and Oregon. Trumpet pitchers are threatened in the wild by development and the drainage of their natural habitat. An estimated 97% of their habitat has already been destroyed in the south-eastern United States.

RANGE

Trumpet pitcher plants grow in subtropical wetlands, bogs and marshes where it is humid and the soil is nutrient deficient. They are native throughout the east coast of America from northern Florida through to the New England states and the eastern provinces of Canada. An exception is the Sarracenia Darlingtonia that is found on the west coast in California and Oregon. Trumpet pitchers are threatened in the wild by development and the drainage of their natural habitat. An estimated 97% of their habitat has already been destroyed in the south-eastern United States.

HOW DO THEY GROW?

Trumpet pitcher plants grow from a subterranean (underground) rhizome (stem) with many tubular pitcher-shaped leaves radiating out from the growing point. Flowers are produced early in spring with or slightly ahead of the first pitchers. The pitchers grow vigorously during spring and summer reaching heights of up to a meter in mature plants.  At the end of autumn the pitchers begin to wither and the plants produce non-carnivorous leaves called phyllodia. As the supply of insects during winter is decreased and the onset of cold weather slows plant metabolism, it is wasteful of the plant’s energy to produce carnivorous leaves at this time. Trumpet pitcher plants can be propagated by seed, root division, leaf pullings and tissue culture. It takes about 3-5 years for the plant to reach flowering size from seed. They are perennial so they live for two years or more and when properly cared for can live for many years.

HUNTING

The leaves of the Trumpet pitcher plant have evolved into specialized cylindrical pitchers that trap insects. A combination of colour, scent and a nectar-like secretion on the lip of pitchers attract insects to the plant. The insects are forced to walk on a slippery vertical surface in order to get to the nectar and they invariably slip and fall down to the bottom of the pitcher into a pool of water. The inside surface of the pitcher is very smooth, steep and contains downward pointing hairs so it is virtually impossible for the doomed insects to climb out of the pitcher and it will eventually die from exhaustion or dehydration. Once the insects dies specialized glands on the inside surface of the pitcher excrete a fluid containing digestive enzymes which liquefies the trapped insect so that it can be digested. The main prey of Sarracenia are ants, flies, wasps, bees, beetles, slugs and snails.