Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Native throughout most of the eastern U.S. and Canada with naturalized populations in California.
Maryland, west to Iowa and north to Manitoba, Hudson Bay, and Labrador
. Its range extends as far west as northeastern British Columbia
. Populations are scattered throughout Georgia and southern South
Carolina but become more abundant from northern South Carolina to
Virginia and Maryland . The break between the northern and southern
subspecies occurs in central New Jersey . Sarracenia purpurea forma
heterophylla is found in one county in Michigan, in some eastern
Canadian bogs, and in Connecticut [21,22].
Occurrence in North America
MA MI MN MS NH NJ NY NC OH PA
RI SC VT VA WV WI AB BC MB NB
NF NS ON PE PQ SK
Purple pitcher-plant is a native, perennial, carnivorous forb. The evergreen
leaves are modified into pitchers and arranged in a rosette . The
pitchers are curved and decumbent, measuring to 17.7 inches (45 cm) and
widening prominently toward the mouth. The hood on the pitcher is
positioned vertically, resulting in the pitcher usually being full or
partly full of rainwater . Leaf color varies from bright
yellow-green to dark purple and is most commonly a middle variation with
strong red venation. Flower petals, sepals, and bracts are rose pink to
dark red . Flowers are solitary, and terminate a scape arising from
the rhizome. At anthesis the scape is recurved near the apex. The
fruit is a capsule with laterally winged seeds .
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Comments: Purple pitcher plant grows in peat bogs, savannas, and wet meadows (Foster and Duke 1990).
Purple pitcher-plant characteristically occurs in bogs, savannas, and
flatwoods. The very wettest parts of bogs are favored, often
restricting the species to the edges of bogs . Purple pitcher-plant forms
dense, floating mats on the water at the edges of bog ponds and lakes
and across acid streams [9,12,22]. Along the Gulf Coast Sarracenia
species are often associated with Sphagnum, sundew (Drosera sp.),
butterwort (Pinguicula sp.), pipewort (Eriocaulon sp.), bladderwort
(Utricularia sp.), grass-pink (Calopogon sp.), burmannia (Burmannia
sp.), and other genera characteristic of acid sites .
Purple pitcher-plant is adapted to poor soils that are deficient in trace
elements such as molybdenum. These elements may be obtained from the
captured insects and amphibians . Soils are usually highly acidic
and unsuitable for many other plants. Purple pitcher-plant, however, does not
require acidic soils for growth, and it occasionally occurs in alkaline
marl bogs around the Great Lakes [22,23]. Both ombrotrophic and
minerotrophic peat sites are occupied .
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the term: swamp
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
37 Northern white cedar
70 Longleaf pine
75 Shortleaf pine
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
83 Longleaf pine - slash pine
84 Slash pine
97 Atlantic white-cedar
98 Pond pine
103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo
104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
More info for the term: bog
K079 Palmetto prairie
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES41 Wet grasslands
Flower-Visiting Insects of Northern Pitcher Plant in Illinois
(bees suck nectar or collect pollen; adults of the Pitcher Plant fly, Fletcherimyia fletcheri, find shelter in the flowers and become covered with pollen; all of these insects are effective at cross-pollination as they fly from flower-to-flower; observations are from Thien & Marcks and Ne'eman et al.)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus spp. sn (TM), Bombus affinis cp (NNE)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella aurata sn cp (NNE)
Sarcophagidae: Fletcherimyia fletcheri shl (NNE)
Periodic, moderate fires are necessary for long-term viability (Folkerts 1977). Reproduction is primarily by seed; pollination by bees during peak flowering is essentially monotropic. Natural hybridization in common and may be facilitated by soil disturbance (Folkerts 1982).
Fire Management Considerations
Moth larvae infestations may be controlled by burning the previous
year's purple pitcher-plant litter. Highly infested stands are frequently
those protected from fire . Fire suppression also leads to less
frequent, severe fires which damage species normally considered to be
fire tolerant. Fire is a natural event in carnivorous plant habitats,
and this must be considered when managing these areas .
The season that fire occurs in may influence the floristic composition
of purple pitcher-plant bogs. Historically, summer fires were frequent,
probably occurring as a result of lightning. At present, most fires are
caused by man and occur during the winter. Data on the effects of this
shift are lacking; however, winter fires would seem less effective in
opening space for seed germination of bog species .
Plant Response to Fire
well adapted to moderate fire in the South [18,22].
Immediate Effect of Fire
Purple pitcher-plant is usually top-killed by fire. Severe fires may burn into
the peat layer and destroy the rhizomes, thereby killing the plant
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
fires are necessary to reduce the encroachment of competing plants and
stimulate growth by releasing nutrients bound up in organic matter .
Purple pitcher-plant survives fire by resprouting from underground rhizomes.
More info for the term: succession
Facultative Seral Species
Plant succession on purple pitcher-plant bogs is toward a sedge-woody species
dominated community. Fire, however, retards this succession and
purple pitcher-plant bogs are thought to be fire disclimaxes .
Purple pitcher-plant is successional to sphagnum in the bogs of Isle Royale,
of the rhizomes [9,18]. Bees are the main pollinators. Though normally
polytropic, during the peak of Sarracenia flowering, the bees are
effectively monotropic, visiting only Sarracenia species, at least where
there are large stands of flowers . Bare ground is vital for
seedling establishment .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Life History and Behavior
Purple pitcher-plant begins flowering along the Gulf Coast in early to
mid-March. Farther north, blooming occurs from late July to early
August . The leaves, or pitchers, are produced each year from stems
arising from the rhizomes and remain evergreen unless unduly exposed
. Individual rhizomes may live for 20 to 30 years .
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sarracenia purpurea
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Sarracenia purpurea is common throughout most of Canada and parts of the northeastern U.S., but significantly rare in most of its southeastern U.S. range. S. purpurea is included on Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) which mandates regulations on international trade in this species. Declining trends in populations in the southeastern U.S. have prompted several states to pass legislation to protect native populations. This species is widely traded, both in the international and domestic floral, medicinal, and ornamental markets. A majority of international trade is conducted with artificially propagated plants, however poaching and wild-harvesting of this species continues in the U.S. Sarracenia purpurea require bog habitats and periodic fires to maintain viable populations; therefore this species is threatened by fire suppression and damage to this sensitive habitat type. There is a divergence between conservation status in the southeastern U.S. in comparison with the northeastern U.S. and Canada, wherein populations in the former region are declining rapidly but populations in the northern portion of the range are apparently secure.
forma heterophylla is listed as threatened in Michigan [11,24].
Comments: Sarracenia purpurea is a popular plant, both for the ornamental and medicinal industries. Recent trends in demand suggest that economic uses could be detrimental for wild populations if sufficient artificially propagated material is not available. For example, as of 1997, Sarracenia purpurea is commercially available in the German medicinal market (Lyke, in litt., 2001). Studies have shown increased interest in collecting S. purpurea plants for anti-cancer and insecticidal properties (Groves 1993). In 1995, documentation to issue export permits of 59,000 pitcher plants was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Robbins 1998). A majority of S. purpurea in commerce is cultivated; however wild populations and local, small-scale collecting should be monitored regularly to prevent exploitation of local populations. For example, although many plants exported from the U.S. are artificially propagated, much of the former supply of exported cut pitchers from wild populations now supplies the domestic floral industry. Approximately 1.6 million pitchers were cut for the domestic market in 1991 and 145,500 cut pitchers were exported from various Sarracenia species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1991). Poaching remains a significant threat to the conservation of wild-populations of Sarracenia species and law enforcement efforts (Lyke, in litt., 2001). Furthermore, since it has been most cost effective for grows to augment existing bogs, rather than propagate plants in greenhouses, there are potential threats to the genetic integrity of native populations and the definition of "artificially propagated" may become distorted (Groves 1993). Strict documentation of such "mixed sites" might alleviate these threats.
In addition to potential collection pressures on wild plants, significant declines in bog habitat threaten the viability of native populations. Formerly abundant pitcher plant bogs on the Lower Gulf Coastal Plain have diminished by approximately 97% since European settlement (Folkerts 1982). Ditching and draining bogs for development purposes have been considered the largest threat to bog habitat. Fire suppression, grazing, silvicultural practices, and chemical residues are also significant threats (Groves 1993). As noted, collection of wild plants is a formidable threat, however it may be that resulting soil disturbance and vehicular traffic by collectors does at least as much, if not more damage than merely cutting pitchers off of plants (Robbins 1998). Active management of bog sites is necessary in some cases to maintain bogs. Restoration efforts, including prescribed burning and invasive weed management, have been shown to increase bog habitat (Groves 2000).
sometimes infesting large areas and severely damaging the population
Collection of wild purple pitcher-plants for sale has resulted in localized
extinction in some areas. A number of dealers currently specialize in
cultivating carnivorous plants, but collecting is still a problem, since
it is less costly .
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, LANDSCAPING, Cultivated ornamental, ESTHETIC
Production Methods: Cultivated, Wild-harvested
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
Runoff from road-salt storage piles into an adjacent bog killed several
native bog species, which allowed the invasion of cattails (Typha
latifolia) and weedy annuals. Several bog species, including
purple pitcher-plant, were successfully transplanted to damaged areas using
"living mats" from unimpacted areas of the bog. Component species of
the mats included Sphagnum mosses, small cranberry (Vaccinium
oxycoccos), purple pitcher-plant, narrow-leaf sundew (Drosera intermedia), and
leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata augustifolia) .
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Purple pitcher-plants, although carnivorous, are also beneficial to several
insect species. Ants, wasps, bees, butterflies, and moths are attracted
to purple pitcher-plant by its nectar. Beetles and spiders visit the plants to
prey on other insects. Spiders may spin a web inside the pitcher to
catch insects which fall inside . Some flies live in the pitchers,
feeding on decomposing insects . The larvae of a small, nonbiting
mosquito live only in the liquid held by purple pitcher-plant. Unlike most
insects, these larvae are neither killed nor digested in the pitcher
Purple pitcher-plant obtains prey species that are quite different from that of
other Sarracenia species. A large number of grasshoppers, crickets, and
snails are captured. Microhabitat segregation exists among
Sarracenica species in the same bog and may influence the types of prey
Sarracenia purpurea, commonly known as the purple pitcher plant, northern pitcher plant, or side-saddle flower, is a carnivorous plant in the family Sarraceniaceae. Its range includes almost the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, the Great Lakes, and south eastern Canada, making it the most common and broadly distributed pitcher plant, as well as the only member of the genus that inhabits cold temperate climates. The species is the floral emblem of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The species was introduced into bogs in parts of Ireland, where it has proliferated.
Like other species of Sarracenia, S. purpurea obtains most of its nutrients through prey capture. However, prey acquisition is said to be inefficient, with less than 1% of the visiting prey captured within the pitcher. Even so, anecdotal evidence by growers often shows that pitchers quickly fill up with prey during the warm summer months. Prey fall into the pitcher and drown in the rainwater that collects in the base of each leaf. Prey items such as flies, ants, spiders, and even moths, are then digested by an invertebrate community, made up mostly by the mosquito Wyeomyia smithii and the midge Metriocnemus knabi. The relationship between W. smithii and S. purpurea is an example of commensalism.
Protists, rotifers (including Habrotrocha rosa), and bacteria form the base of inquiline food web that shreds and mineralizes available prey, making nutrients available to the plant. New pitcher leaves do produce digestive enzymes such as hydrolases and proteases, but as the individual leaves get older into their second year, digestion of prey material is aided by the community of bacteria that live within the pitchers.
The species is further divided into two subspecies, S. purpurea subsp. purpurea and S. purpurea subsp. venosa. The former is found from New Jersey north, while the latter is found from New Jersey south and tolerates warmer temperatures.
In 1999, Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa var. burkii was described as a species of its own: Sarracenia rosea. This re-ranking has been debated among carnivorous plant enthusiasts since then, but further morphological evidence has supported the split. The following species and infraspecific taxa are usually recognized:
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. purpurea
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. purpurea f. heterophylla
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. purpurea f. ruplicola (invalid)
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa var. burkii [=S. rosea]
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa var. burkii f. luteola
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa var. montana
- Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa var. burkii [=S. rosea]
- Foss, P.J. & O'Connell, C.A. (1985). "Notes on the ecology of Sarracenia purpurea L. on Irish peatlands". The Irish Naturalists' Journal 21 (10): 440–443. JSTOR 25538921.
- Wakefield AE, Gotelli NJ, Wittman SE, Ellison AM (2005). "Prey addition alters nutrient stoichiometry of the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea". Ecology (abstract) 86 (7): 1737–1743. doi:10.1890/04-1673.
- Newell SJ, Nastase AJ (1998). "Efficiency of nutrient capture by Sarracenia purpurea (Sarraceniaceae), the Northern Pitcher Plant". American Journal of Botany 85 (1): 88–91. doi:10.2307/2446558. JSTOR 2446558.
- C. Michael Hogan. 2011. Commensalism. Topic Ed. M.Mcginley. Ed-in-chief C.J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
- Heard SB (1994). "Pitcher plant midges and mosquitoes: a processing chain commensalism". Ecology (abstract) 75 (6): 1647–1660. doi:10.2307/1939625. JSTOR 1939625.
- Mouquet N., Daufresne T., Gray S. M., Miller T. E. (2008). "Modelling the relationship between a pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) and its phytotelma community: mutualism or parasitism?". Functional Ecology 22 (4): 728–737. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01421.x.
- Peterson C. N., Day S., Wolfe B. E., Ellison A. M., Kolter R., Pringle A. (2008). "A keystone predator controls bacterial diversity in the pitcher-plant (Sarracenia purpurea) microecosystem". Environmental Microbiology 10 (9): 2257–2266. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01648.x. PMID 18479443.
- Rice, Barry. (2007). About Sarracenia purpurea, the purple pitcher plant. The Carnivorous Plant FAQ. Accessed online: 21 June 2008.
- Gallie D. R., Chang S.-C. (1997). "Signal transduction in the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea. Regulation of secretory hydrolase expression during development and in response to resources". Plant Physiology 115 (4): 1461–1471. doi:10.1104/pp.115.4.1461. PMC 158611. PMID 9414556.
- Ellison A. M., Buckley H. L., Miller T. E., Gotelli N. J. (2004). "Morphological variation in Sarracenia purpurea (Sarraceniaceae): geographic, environmental, and taxonomic correlates" (PDF). American Journal of Botany 91 (11): 1930–1935. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.11.1930. PMID 21652339.
- Hanrahan B., Miller J. (1998). "History of Discovery: Yellow Flowered Sarracenia purpurea L. subsp. venosa (Raf.) Wherry var. burkii". Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 27 (1): 14–17.
Names and Taxonomy
The currently accepted scientific name for purple pitcher-plant is Sarracenia
purpurea L. Recognized subspecies and forms are :
S. purpurea ssp. purpurea Wherry - northern plants
S. p. ssp. p. forma heterophylla (Eaton) Fern. - yellow flowers
S. p. ssp. venosa Raf. - southern plants
Natural hybrids normally occur in disturbed areas, indicating hybrid
viability may be positively correlated with soil disturbance. The five
naturally occurring hybrids are [9,18]:
S. purpurea X S. alata = S. exornata
S. purpurea X S. flava = S. catesbaei
S. purpurea X S. leucophylla = S. mitchelliana
S. purpurea X S. minor = S. swaniana
S. purpurea X S. rubra = S. chelsonii
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