Fall Wildflowers of New England
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Northern Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia purpurea
F. Sarraceniaceae
Sarracenia purpurea
General Description:

The northern pitcher plant is a robust wildflower that measures approximately 20-60 cm. in height. As evidenced by its name, the northern pitcher plant is best characterized by its pitcher-shaped, hairy, leaves. This plant produces a single, red, nodding flower that rests atop the terminal shoot of a thick, leafless stalk.

Flowers:

The radially symmetrical flower of the northern pitcher plant is relatively large, measuring 5 cm in width. The nodding flower has five, red, rounded, fleshy petals, multiple stamens, and thick, purplish-red sepals. This flower is singularly arranged atop the terminal shoot.

Fruit:

Northern pitcher plant bears capsule-like fruit

Leaves:

The unique, green and brownish-red speckled leaves measure approximately 10-30 cm. in length and are pitcher-shaped with a flaring, darkened, terminal lip. The inside of the pitcher-like structure is lined with downward pointing hairs and often contains water. Leaves are several and are arranged in a rosette around the base of the stem.

Habitat:

Northern pitcher plant grows best in peat bogs.

Fun Facts:

Northern pitcher plant is a carnivorous wildflower. The pitcher-like leaves collect rainwater and excrete digestive chemicals. When insects attracted to the colored lip of the leaf walk into the structure, they become trapped by the downward pointing hairs, eventually drown, and are digested by bacterial and enzymatic action in the water solution. The northern pitcher plant then absorbs the resulting nutrients.

Sarracenia purpurea
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