The pitcher plant is another beautiful monster of my youth. It grows in the poor damp soils of bogs and ditches and thrives along the country roads of Nova Scotia. The top photo is of the The Northern Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) which I discovered growing in the marshy field behind the little church Stella Maris that I used to own in Morden. I remember my delight in stumbling upon them among the Blue Fag and admiring my wild and readymade, if mushy, garden.
The pitcher plant lures insects with the anthocyanin pigments and nectar into the pitfalls of the cupped leaves. A grooved inner lining keeps the bugs from easily crawling out while they are drawn to their doom by the bright window-like patches deep into the cavity where water has collected along with communities of smaller insects, bacteria and enzymes which aid in the digestion of the prey.
I was happy to find this Parrot Pitcher (Sarracenia pstittacina) today at my local nursery. It is the southern cousin to the pitchers I’m familiar with and will require a terrarium to make it here. These plants have the additional adaption of sharp downward pointing hairs lining their pitfalls which let its prey enter but not leave – the perfect Hotel California.
There is a California Pitcher Plant (Darlington californica) or Cobra Lily, which I’ve yet to see in he wild. It’s pifall has the slippery walls and hair traps of the Parrot Pitcher as well as a light filled balloon-like entrance. It lives in the cold bogs in the very northern part of the state. The Cobra Lily lives up to it name with a forked leaf at the mouth of the bulbous, rearing head resembling its namesake!
I couldn’t find any Victorian symbolism for the pitcher plant, but I think something like “enter at your own risk” might be appropriate.