A small family of bog-inhabiting plants having hollow pitcher-formed or trumpet-shaped leaves.
Few plants are as little known, generally as this species. It is one of the most interesting ones that we have. The shapes of both the leaves and blossoms are clearly shown in the opposite picture. The pitchers, or basal leaves, may number from three to a dozen, all radiating from the root and all with the orifice up. An examination shows that each pitcher is partially filled with water. Just below the rim of the leaf, on the inside, is a sticky substance to attract insects; as these enter, they pass downwards over countless little hairs, all pointing downwards. These make it very difficult for insects to crawl out of the pitcher, and many of them become exhausted and are drowned in the water. As these insects decompose, they are absorbed by the plant. On account of its killing insects and afterwards devouring them by absorption, the Pitcher Plant is often classed as a carnivorous species.
Pitcher Plant. Sarracenia purpurea.
Pitcher Plants grow in boggy places, where Spag-num Moss abounds; of course such places may become quite dry during the summer. This, however, does not discommode the plant in the least, as it carries its reservoir with it. In cold weather we find the pitchers with the water frozen within them.
No less peculiar is the flower of this plant, a single blossom, borne on a long, hollow, erect scape, during May and June. The five sepals are thick and purplish; the delicate hanging petals are dull pink; the pistil is umbrella-like and surrounded by numerous stamens. The Pitcher Plant is local in bogs from Labrador to Manitoba and southwards.