Sarracenia purpurea subsp. purpurea | ‘Purple Pitcher Plant’ | 50 seeds
A truly fabulous carnivorous species from America, Sarracenia purpurea is more popularly known as the ‘Purple Pitcher Plant’, although is also sometimes called the ‘Northern Pitcher Plant’, ‘Side-saddle Flower’, or ‘Turtle Socks’.
Since we’ve been growing the tropical pitcher Nepenthes alata for several years now, we thought it was high time we tried our hand at cultivating one of its North American cousins too. As the only species of the Sarraceniaceae family which can withstand colder temperate climates (USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9), the ‘Purple Pitcher’ seemed like the perfect choice for us to try growing in the UK! Encouragingly, its’ reportedly proliferated since being introduced into Irish bogs.
The most common (and wide-ranging) of the Sarracenia, purpurea is much renowned for its ability to source the bulk of its nutritional requirements by capturing, drowning and digesting unfortunate creatures (such as ants, flies, moths and spiders). However, purpurea seems a rather inefficient killer, with less than one percent of its potential victims actually falling prey to its deadly trap. Those that do, however, die by drowning in rainwater collected in the bottom of the pitchers, where they’re subsequently digested by a selection of helpful invertebrates…mmm!
Sarracenia purpurea is divided into two subspecies – the one listed here, subsp. purpurea, hails from northern New Jersey, while the other, subsp. venosa, comes from the south of that state (and consequently tolerates slightly warmer habitats). There are currently several recognised varieties of each subspecies. One (former) variety, subsp. venosa var. burkii, was reclassified as a distinct species, Sarracenia rosea, in 1999.
Interestingly, this species was used by indigenous North Americans including the Algonquin, Cree, Iroquois and Mi’kmaq (Micmac), primarily to treat smallpox. Sounds like another good excuse to try growing something new!
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced in 2018-2019