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Redflower Pitcherplant Sarracenia rubra ssp. rubra

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sar-uh-SEN-ee-uh ROO-bruh ROO-bruh
Description

Sarracenia rubra ssp. rubra, or Sweet Pitcherplant, is one of six subspecies of the Sarracenia rubra species of pitcher plants. The other subspecies are jonesii, gulfensis, viatorum, alabamensis, and wherryi. It has many hybrids available, but plants sold in the trade are usually listed as the straight species.

Sweet Pitcherplant is a native, deciduous, herbaceous perennial, carnivorous plant found in bogs, pocosins, and wet savannas from North Carolina to Georgia. These plants grow in swampy areas with infertile, acidic mucky soils and have adapted by becoming able to digest small bugs. It grows quickly and forms clumps of pitcher shaped leaves that form into narrow hollow cones to serve as a trap for insects. The insects are attracted to the nectar of the plant and then crawl into the pitcher. Downward facing hairs prevent their escape. They become trapped and die. The decayed insect's nutrients are then absorbed by the plant as food. The plants are generally green to copper colored with red veining and a hood over the top to help prevent rain from getting inside. The pitchers produced in spring tend to be smaller and floppier than the ones produced in summer. The fragrant flowers have long strap-like red petals and are produced from April through June. The plants spread mostly by rhizomes.

Pitcher plants are 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. This plant is listed as endangered in Georgia and threatened in Florida. 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. Species name means "red".

Sweet Pitcherplant is heat tolerant, but drought sensitive. 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.

More information on Sarracenia rubra.

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Tags:
#heat tolerant#moths#NC native#pollinator plant#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains OBL#wet soils tolerant#food source soft mast fruit#native carnivorus plant#moth larvae#Audubon#boggy sites
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#heat tolerant#moths#NC native#pollinator plant#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains OBL#wet soils tolerant#food source soft mast fruit#native carnivorus plant#moth larvae#Audubon#boggy sites
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarracenia
    Species:
    rubra
    Family:
    Sarraceniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Sandhills and coastal North Carolina
    Distribution:
    North Carolina to Georgia and Florida
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 4 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 5 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Carnivorous
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are available June-July
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are reddish-purple and bloom April-May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat