Pitcher Plants are the hungriest and the most successful hunters of the Carnivorous Plant world. By the end of the summer, the specially adapted “leaf tubes” are filled inches deep with the dead carcases of insects.
And they do this without lifting a finger.
The trapping strategy of the Pitcher Plants is simple: “come to me.” These plants are experts in the art of attraction.
The attraction mechanisms they use are novel and varied.
Sarracenia purpurea has an undulating leafy ridge that passes from the ground up to the water filled trap. Sweet fragrant honey exudes from special pores along this pathway. At the trap top, insects which arrive by air land on a specialized leaf area of downward pointing hairs. The insects find it easy to walk toward their water grave. If they try to turn around, spines stick them in their back.
Sarracenia minor plays on the specialized compound eyes of flies and insects. Insects eyes are very sensitive to light, and especially orientation of light. They know where up and down are. The sun is up. The dark ground is down. Sarracenia minor has an entry on the lower side of a rain deflecting hood. Once inside, insects are dazzled by clear leaf tissue, white round windows through the upper leaf trap surface. Sensing danger, the insects try to fly up to the light souce. They don’t realize that the light they see above them comes through closed windows. Tiring of fighting to fly upward, they fall exhausted to the lower part of the leaf, and are digested.
Sarracenia flava exudes heavy white wax on the surface of the hood covered entrance to its leaf-tube. Any insect landing there loses footing, and literally slides down inside the digestive trap. Escape is futile as the inside of the leaf-tube is wax covered as well. No need for downward pointing hairs to keep dinner inside.
Sarracenia hybridize easily both in nature and in the hands of botanists. We grow many hybrids. Your collection may include one of these plants as well. You will recognize the hybrids by the mix of leaf characteristics they show, some from their mother, some from their father. Some often exhibit interesting leaf colors and shapes not found in either parent.
Hybrids demonstrate a mix of trapping strategies which both parents used: red color patterns, false exits, honey lined paths to death pits, wax covered sidewalls, downward pointing spines, colored highway paths terminating at trap entrances, and even soapy water which destroys water tension allowing insects to drown upon contact.
Growth comes to a virtual standstill during the dark cold months of winter. Leaves tend to brown at the edges. New leaves stop emerging from the thick root which grows across the soil.
In March, all this changes. With the equinox of Spring, and the warmth and long days, the roots push up thick clusters of new leaves and flowers.
Full care information on these plants is found at www.flytraphelp.info