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Sarracenia psittacina is often confused with:
Darlingtonia californica Darlingtonia californica
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Sarracenia Sarracenia  ssp. in summer in Moore County
Sarracenia jonesii Sarracenia jonesii
Sarracenia minor Sarracenia minor

Parrot Beaks Sarracenia psittacina

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sair-ah-SEEN-ee-ah sit-ah-CHEEN-ah
Description

The Parrot Pitcher Plant is a herbaceous perennial and carnivorous plant that can be found in boggy low-lying areas of pine forests.  They are clump-forming and grow in rosettes in water or in moist, swampy soil that is usually high in sphagnum moss and acid and low in nutrients such as nitrogen.  A typical site can be where a wildfire has destroyed surrounding vegetation and thereby providing full sun.  The plant will obtain its needed nutrients by consuming insects, spiders and maybe even a tadpole or two. Parrot Pitcher Plant is often hidden by grasses and other vegetation. It is most noticeable when in flower. 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 20 to 300 pear-shaped seeds. The seeds are scattered and will germinate after a period of cold stratification. 

The leaves resemble narrow tubes having a wing on the side facing the center of the plant.  Mature plants have leaves with a balloon-like reddish-purple hood with a beak-like opening resembling a parrot head, hence the common name.  The tubular pitchers are horizontal to the ground and form a rosette.  These downward facing hoods on mature leaves act like a "lobster trap" to eat insects.  Attracted by the plants' nectar, insects enter the hooded area where they are trapped in the digestive fluid of the plant. Escape is prohibited by downward-facing hairs that allow entry but prohibit exiting.  Parrot Pitcher Plant grows in wetter habitats than most other Pitcher Plant species. The plant can survive underwater so the plant consumes aquatic insects, tadpoles, and small fish. 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 mean "parrot like".

The Parrot Pitcher Plant is native to the southeastern United States. However, an estimated 97.5% of their habitats have been destroyed in the southeastern United States. 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. Pitcher plants prefer full sun during the growing season and require moist to wet, acidic soils of sand and peat, but mostly sand. 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.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems: 

The Parrot Pitcher plant goes dormant in the fall and dormancy continues until spring making it unsuitable for a house plant. The leaves will turn brown, but it is best to wait and remove the foliage in the spring just before the flowers emerge.

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:
  • 'Green Rosette'
    Green flowers
  • Sarracenia psittacina var. okefenokeensis
    Very large
  • Sarracenia psittacina var. psittacina
    Red flowers pitchers various pigments
'Green Rosette', Sarracenia psittacina var. okefenokeensis, Sarracenia psittacina var. psittacina
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#specimen#carnivorous#slow growing#colorful leaves#wetlands#moist soil#herbaceous perennials#pond garden#exotic looking#OBL#wet soils tolerant#wet soils intolerant#native#boggy sites
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Green Rosette'
    Green flowers
  • Sarracenia psittacina var. okefenokeensis
    Very large
  • Sarracenia psittacina var. psittacina
    Red flowers pitchers various pigments
'Green Rosette', Sarracenia psittacina var. okefenokeensis, Sarracenia psittacina var. psittacina
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#specimen#carnivorous#slow growing#colorful leaves#wetlands#moist soil#herbaceous perennials#pond garden#exotic looking#OBL#wet soils tolerant#wet soils intolerant#native#boggy sites
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarracenia
    Species:
    psittacina
    Family:
    Sarraceniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Southern Mississippi
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and other winged insects pollinate the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Carnivorous
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    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
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Produces showy 2 inch red-purple flowers from March to June. They look like upside-down umbrellas and grow on stalks. They bloom in early spring before the first pitcher is formed. The stalks are taller than the pitchers so the pollinators can reach their blooms without getting trapped. Flowers are produced singly on scapes that are 6 to 12 inches in height. The flowers are red in color.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Description:
    Narrow, tubular, curving green leaves with red and pale white blotches. Forms a low rosette. Eight inch pitchers with lateral openings. Dome-like hood has clear spots and the belly of the pitcher has a leafy fin that runs the length of the tube. Nectar is lanced with a chemical that intoxicates the prey. Slippery, downward-pointing hairs. Pitcher-like leaves collect water and trap insects.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Pond
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators