HARDY GREEN PITCHER PLANT Sarracenia oreophila
Sarracenia oreophila, also known as the green pitcherplant, has highly modified leaves in the form of pitchers that act as pitfall traps for prey. The narrow pitcher leaves are tapered tubes that rise up to 75 centimetres from the ground, with a mouth 6 to 10 centimetres in circumference. Like all the Sarracenia, it is native to the New World. Sarracenia oreophila is the most endangered of all Sarracenia species, its range limited to a handful of sites in northern Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia, and—historically--Tennessee.
Like other members of the genus Sarracenia, the green pitcherplant traps insects using a tubular rolled leaf which collects digestive juices at the bottom. The uppermost part of the leaf is flared into a lid (the operculum), which prevents excess rain from entering the pitcher and diluting the digestive secretions within. The upper regions of the pitcher are covered in short, stiff, downwards-pointing hairs, which serve to guide insects alighting on the upper portions of the leaf towards the opening of the pitcher tube. The opening of the pitcher tube is studded with nectar-secreting glands. Prey entering the tube find that their footing is made extremely uncertain by the smooth, waxy secretions found on the surfaces of the upper portion of the tube. Insects losing their footing on this surface plummet to the bottom of the tube, where a combination of digestive fluid, wetting agents and inward-pointing hairs prevent their escape. Some large insects (such as wasps) have been reported to escape from the pitchers on occasion, by chewing their way out through the wall of the tube.
Pitchers are veined, with heavily pigmented throats. Traps take on a pink or red flush as they age. In spring, the plant produces large, yellow flowers with 5-fold symmetry. The yellow petals are long and strap-like, and dangle over the umbrella-like style of the flower, which is held upside down at the end of a 50 cm long scape. Pollinating insects generally enter the flower from above, forcing their way into the cavity between the petals and umbrella, and depositing any pollen they are carrying on the stigmata as they enter. The pollinators generally exit the flower, having been dusted with the plant's own pollen, by lifting a petal. This one-way system helps to ensure cross pollination.
The green pitcher plant has suffered a devastating decline throughout its former range. Development for both urban and rural uses has led to the widespread alteration of the habitat of this species. Pitcher plants are very popular with collectors. Today, around 34 naturally occurring populations persist but these are small and highly fragmented; most consist of fewer than 50 individuals.
Hardiness zones: 7-10, possibly zone 6
Type: Perennial or houseplant
Location: Sun or part sun
Seeds per pack: 20
Note: We also have a limited supply of live plants of Sarracenia and carnivorous plants available seasonally for shipping within Canada.
Germination: As with many perennials, these benefit from a period of moist cold to help them begin to grow. This is done by giving them a cool 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Fill the container sphagnum peat moss, or a mix that contains mainly peat moss. Place the seeds on the surface of the pre-dampened mix, and gently water with a spray bottle. Cover with clear plastic, and place your container in a cool area (but not freezing) for 4-6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature, and in bright light for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Most seedlings will sprout within 2-3 months of the warming period, though some may take a little longer. Once plants sprout, slowly remove the plastic, a little bit each day. Always keep the soil slightly moist, never letting it dry out.
In the winter, plants need about 3 months dormancy period, to rest. If growing your plants indoors, place the pot in a cool location for this cold period.