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White Trumpet Pitcher Plant Sarracenia leucophylla

Previously known as:

  • Sarracenia drummondii
Phonetic Spelling
sair-ah-SEEN-ee-ah loo-koh-FIL-uh

The Crimson Pitcher Plant is a stemless herbaceous perennial and hooded carnivorous plant native to Georgia, coastal Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. It prefers moist and low-nutrient long leaf pine savannas found along the coastal plain. While not native to North Carolina, it has been introduced and has naturalized in the coastal plains. It is clump-forming and grow in rosettes. It is endangered in some areas due to loss of habitat. The plant has specialized carnivorous leaves that form into a narrow hollow cone to serve as a trap for insects. The insects are attracted to the nectar of the plant and then crawl into the pitcher. They become trapped and die. The decayed insect's nutrients are then absorbed by the plant as food. Showy flowers bloom in the spring appearing as an upside-down umbrella on the top of a tall stalk. Bees pollinate the flowers. A seed pod forms at the top of the flower and matures in the fall. A dry capsule will split open and reveal pear-shaped seeds. The seeds are scattered and will germinate after a period of cold stratification. 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 means "white leaved".

An estimated 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. The Crimson Pitcher Plant is an endangered species. Never harvest these plants from the wild. They are best purchased from a reputable carnivorous plant nursery.

These plants require specific growing conditions, but can be grown at home in a carefully prepared bog garden. They can also be grown in a  container with Canadian peat or 50/50 mixes of peat/sand or peat/perlite . Pitcher plants prefer full sun during the growing season. They require moist to wet, acidic soils of sand and peat, but mostly sand. If grown in part shade, leaf coloring does not develop as it should and pitchers droop. These plants need an acidic, humusy muck that is constantly damp. This species tolerates more wetness than most other species of pitcher plant. Soils must never dry out. Potting soil and fertilizers can kill the plant and it 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 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. Most reproduction comes from budding along the rhizome and the easiest propagation is by rhizome division. Plants can be grown from seed, but will not flower for the first 4 or 5 years.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring      Foliage:  Spring and Summer

Quick ID Hints:

  • clump-forming, growing in rosettes, found in swamps or bogs
  • specialized carnivorous leaf in the form of a hollow cone with a lid or hood
  • flowers are upside-down umbrellas on tall stalks
  • seed pod that turns brown at maturity and releases seeds

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: The plants will do poorly if their specific growing conditions are not met. The biggest mistake is to keep the plant too wet. 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 landscape:
Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Wilmington
Cultivars / Varieties:
#specimen#carnivorous#colorful#spring flowers#pond margins#moist soil#herbaceous perennial#native garden#exotic looking#container plant#coastal plant#full sun#boggy sites
Cultivars / Varieties:
#specimen#carnivorous#colorful#spring flowers#pond margins#moist soil#herbaceous perennial#native garden#exotic looking#container plant#coastal plant#full sun#boggy sites
  • Attributes:
    Life Cycle:
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Georgia south to Florida and west to Mississippi.
    North Carolina, Washington state
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and other winged insects pollinate the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fruit Type:
    Fruit Description:
    After the petals drop and if the ovary has been pollinated, it will begin to swell. The seed pod develops at the top of the flower. It takes 5 months for the seed pod to mature. It turns brown and then splits open to scatter the seeds. The dry 5-parted capsule contains pear-shaped seeds that are scattered and germinate after a period of cold weather.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Flower Shape:
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Nodding, red flower in April and May. The flowers are showy, solitary, and measure 2 to 3 inches in diameter. They look like upside-down umbrellas and grow on long stalks. They bloom before the first pitcher is formed. The stalks are taller than the pitchers so the pollinators can reach their blooms without getting trapped.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Leaf Type:
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Hairs Present:
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The 20 to 36 inch pitchers are erect, with white or translucent patches near the top. The flat hood is erect or ascending with a wavy edge. The lateral wing is not prominent. Each leaf is colored at top with reddish-purple veins on a white background. There are two crops of pitchers; one in the spring and a more robust crop in late summer.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature: