Sarracenia Pollination – don’t eat your pollinator


Hand pollinating Sarracenia purpurea flower. Flattened white starfish structure is the specially modified stigma.

This is the time of year the Sarracenia are blooming, so we do what Mother Nature won’t do for us here in Southern California. We hand pollinate our Sarracenia flowers.  We want seeds, and this is the only dependable way to guarantee seed set.

The flower to the right is from the purple flowering Sarracenia purpurea. Petals, sepals, and even the leaves of the plants are infused with red color. Only the starfish shaped flattened stigma is white.

Seemingly everything about it is coordinated with its carnivory.  Even, for example, its flowering and pollination.

Sarracenia flowers rise early in the Spring, from horizontal rhizomes, much like those of iris plants.

Flower stalks grow 1-2 feet above the ground, well in advance of the growth of the leaves.

And this may make sense.  It probably is not wise to eat one’s pollinator.

But once pollinated, the plants don’t waste time opening their traps. Sarracenia flava, the yellow flowering and yellow trumpeted “Huntsman’s Horn” Pitcher Plant, expands its carnivorous tube leaves within days of the last petals falling off its flowers. wers rise up from the earth, from a horizontal rhizome much like an Iris “bulb,” and wave 1-2 ft in the air, before any of its insect trapping leaves form.

One can only guess that the plants are “plenty hungry” after a long winter’s sleep.