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Trumpets Sarracenia flava

Phonetic Spelling
sair-ah-SEEN-ee-ah FLAH-vah
Description

The Yellow Pitcher Plant is a stemless, herbaceous perennial and carnivorous plant in the pitcher plant family native to savannas, seepage bogs, and pocosins of Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.  In pine forests, it can be found in areas that are not dense with pine, but with meadow-like openings.  Typically, these openings will be waterlogged due to dense soils that lead to high acid in the soil and low nitrogen.  The Yellow Pitcher Plant looks to insects for nutrients. Insects are attracted to the pitcher shaped leaves by droplets of nectar on the leaf. The pitcher shaped leaves contain a pool of water.  As the insect makes its way to the water, it will encounter downward-pointing hairs that prevent the insect from exiting. The water pool contains insect-digesting enzymes that assist the plant in digesting the insect. The genus's name, Sarracenia, honors Dr. Michael Sarrazan of Quebec. In the 1700s, he sent the first pitcher plant to Europe. The species name is Latin for yellow.

It has been estimated that 97.5% of pitcher plant habitats have been destroyed in the southeastern United States. They have been threatened in the wild by ongoing development; however, cultivated varieties are available. Some pitcher plants are on the endangered species list while others are on the threatened list.  These plants are threatened by habitat loss, development, and over-collection. Never harvest these plants from the wild. They are best purchased from a reputable carnivorous plant nursery.

Yellow Pitcher Plants prefer full sun during the growing season. They require consistently moist soil high in sphagnum moss or peat moss but low in nitrogen, coarse vermiculite, and sharp sand. They would do best grown in a constantly damp, but not watery, bog garden. This plant does not like fertilizers and is sensitive to dissolved salts in chlorinated water. Rainwater or distilled water may be used in place of tap water for container plants. The plants should not be manually fed or given food scraps. The plant cannot digest fats, and fertilizers can burn the plant. The Yellow Pitcher Plant goes dormant in the fall and dormancy continues until spring. The leaves will turn brown, but it is best to wait and remove the foliage in the spring just before the flowers emerge. In cold climates, trim leaves back in winter as pitchers die, but only trim dead tissue. Growing them outdoors can be difficult because moist conditions must be maintained at all times. Indoors they require sun for the growing season and then winter dormancy. Whether grown in a bog garden or in containers the plant requirements must be maintained to be successful.

The plant can best be propagated by rhizome division. You can grow plants from seed, but they will not flower for the first 4 to 5 years. Plants can also be grown in plastic pots or containers outside on a sunny deck or patio area with container soils of 50% peat and 50% perlite or vermiculite. Place the container in a tray of water that keeps the soil constantly moist. Overwinter them by inserting them to the rim in soil in protected locations. These plants require cold temperatures in winter dormancy, thus they do not grow well as houseplants.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  

The Yellow Pitcher Plant will do poorly if its specific growing conditions are not met. The usual mistakes include allowing the plant to dry out, keeping the plant too wet, and growing in too much shade that causes the leaves to lose color and the pitchers to droop. They must be protected from freezing winds. Monitor for aphids, scale, mealybugs, moth larvae, leaf spots, and root rot.

 VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Pond and Stream
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Giant Red Tube'
    Pitchers have red exterior tubes with lip, throat and lid being green with red veins.
'Giant Red Tube'
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#perennials#carnivorous#moths#yellow flowers#native perennials#piedmont#spring flowers#moist soil#food source wildlife#NC native#perennial flowers#native garden#summer interest#spring interest#acidic soils tolerant#pollinator plant#larval host plant#fruits summer#food source summer#peat#fruits spring#forb#food source spring#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains OBL#sandy soils tolerant#wet soils tolerant#male pollinator plant#food source soft mast fruit#native carnivorus plant#moth larvae#host#Audubon#coastal plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Giant Red Tube'
    Pitchers have red exterior tubes with lip, throat and lid being green with red veins.
'Giant Red Tube'
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#perennials#carnivorous#moths#yellow flowers#native perennials#piedmont#spring flowers#moist soil#food source wildlife#NC native#perennial flowers#native garden#summer interest#spring interest#acidic soils tolerant#pollinator plant#larval host plant#fruits summer#food source summer#peat#fruits spring#forb#food source spring#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains OBL#sandy soils tolerant#wet soils tolerant#male pollinator plant#food source soft mast fruit#native carnivorus plant#moth larvae#host#Audubon#coastal plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarracenia
    Species:
    flava
    Family:
    Sarraceniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Distribution:
    Virginia south to Florida and Louisiana
    Wildlife Value:
    Larval host to Epaulleted Pitcher Plant Moth. Pollinating insects enjoy the nectar from the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    The root and leaves are sometimes used in herbal remedies but can be toxic and sometimes fatal in high quantities or if misused.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Carnivorous
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Each flower is followed by a 5-parted seed capsule. In North Carolina, the fruits are available from May to June.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Nodding, bright yellow flowers on long stalks. Plants flower in spring, produce new pitchers in spring-summer and the pitchers mostly die back as winter approaches. In North Carolina, the flowers are available from March to April. In other locations, it can bloom into early summer. Flowers typically have a strong musty fragrance.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Simple
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Erect, yellowish-green trumpet-shaped leaves, 20 to 30 inches long, with a crimson patch on throat. Hood is held will above the throat. Sometimes red-veined. This species also produces a second type of leaves that are long, slender, linear, winter leaves (phyllodia), resembling those of an iris. These leaves may remain evergreen in winter.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Pond
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat