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Sarracenia minor

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sair-ah-SEEN-ee-ah MY-nor
Description

Hooded Pitcher Plant is a stemless, deciduous, herbaceous perennial, carnivorous plant native to the Southeastern coastal areas of the United States, including the southern portions of coastal North Carolina. These plants grow in swampy areas with poor soils and have adapted by becoming able to digest small bugs. 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. The light spots on the back of the hood, or "windows", are meant to confuse flying insects by making them think it is a way out, they exhaust themselves trying to escape, and fall back into the plant. The leaves are typically 1 to 2 feet tall with open ends topped by canopy-like hoods; however, species of this plant found in the Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia can reach 3 to 4 feet high. Flowers are yellow and occur late winter to early spring. The plants spread mostly by rhizomes.

It is endangered in some areas due to loss of habitat. 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 Hooded Pitcher Plant is an endangered species. Never harvest these plants from the wild. They are best purchased from a reputable carnivorous plant nursery. 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 smaller or lesser.

These plants require specific growing conditions, but can be grown at home in a carefully prepared bog garden composed of an acidic, humusy muck that is constantly damp to wet in full sun. The plant's crown should not be below the waterline. They could also be grown in a container but do not use potting soil or fertilizer.  Canadian peat or 50/50 mixes of peat/sand or peat/perlite are good choices. The old leaves will die down in winter. If grown in part shade, leaf coloring does not develop as it should and pitchers droop. 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:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Okee Giant', var. minor, var. okefenokeensis
Tags:
#deciduous#full sun tolerant#specimen#carnivorous#colorful#pond margins#moist soil#NC native#herbaceous perennial#native garden#exotic looking#container plant#boggy sites
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Okee Giant', var. minor, var. okefenokeensis
Tags:
#deciduous#full sun tolerant#specimen#carnivorous#colorful#pond margins#moist soil#NC native#herbaceous perennial#native garden#exotic looking#container plant#boggy sites
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarracenia
    Species:
    minor
    Family:
    Sarraceniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Coastal North Carolina south to Florida
    Distribution:
    Introduced to Great Britain.
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and other winged insects pollinate the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Carnivorous
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Capsule with many seeds
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Nodding light yellow flowers, 2 1/2 inches high on stems shorter than the pitchers. Blooms March to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Green pitchers. Expanded upper part and domed canopy is covered with purple veins and white blotches on the rear portion of the pitcher. The appearance of windows in the back of the pitcher.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Pond
    Landscape Theme:
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators