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What Time is it in Nature: Yellow Pitcher Plant

August 1, 2012

Yellow Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia flava

North Carolina is a great place to live or visit if you enjoy carnivorous plants!  Yellow Pitcher Plants are one of several carnivorous plants that are native to North Carolina.

yellow pitcher plant

What is a Yellow Pitcher Plant?  Yellow Pitcher Plants have tall, trumpet-shaped yellow-green leaves that are commonly a foot or two in length, but can reach nearly 4 feet.  The uppermost part of the leaf is expanded into a “lid” that covers the tube formed by the rest of the leaf.  You’ll commonly see several of the leaves together.

How do Yellow Pitcher Plants eat?  Insects are attracted to the Pitcher Plant’s leaves and the nectar it provides along the upper region of the leaves.  The nectar contains intoxicating chemicals, however, and the insects stumble down into the plant as they follow downward pointing hairs.  Eventually they slip on the slippery surface of the leaf and fall into a pool of digestive chemicals at the base.  The plant then absorbs the nutrients from the insect as it is broken down.

What is the range of the Yellow Pitcher Plant?  These plants are native to the coastal regions of the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  In North Carolina, the plants are more widespread and are also found in the piedmont and mountain regions.

We’ve got Pitcher Plants growing in the rain garden area of our Nature Neighborhood Garden at Prairie Ridge.  Come on out and see them!  You just might have a chance to see the plant capture its prey!

What Time is it in Nature is a weekly feature highlighting the current plants, animals, and other wildlife at the Musuem’s public outdoor facility, Prairie Ridge Ecostation.  Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive!

(Photo by Chris Goforth)

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