Green Pitcher Plant

Sarracenia oreophila

Green Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous wetland plant in the genus Sarracenia. It has unique modified leaves that grow in the form of a pitcher. Insects are attracted to the sweet-smelling nectar inside these pitchers and become trapped in the water held within and slowly decompose.  There are a number of flies, wasps, and mites that live within the pitchers and feed on the decomposing ‘insect soup’ inside. With only 35 known natural populations, the green pitcher plant is the most endangered species within the Sarracenia genus, and it is currently on the New York State Exploitably Vulnerable Native Plants list.


Green pitcher plants are found in acidic soils in moist upland areas and along boggy sandy streams. They are native to North America, and their distribution is limited to only a handful of sites in northeastern Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Leaves: are green to yellow to red in color and are long and tubular forming a pitcher that reaches to heights between 20-75 cm (1-6 feet) in height, with a circumference of 6-10 cm. Leaves appear in the spring. There is a wider flap that hangs over the pitcher opening to keep too much water from entering the pitcher and diluting the digestive secretions within. Pitcher leaves wither by late summer and are replaced by flattened leaves which persist until next season.

Flowers: are a deep burgundy color that attracts flies by looking like raw meat. The petals of the flowers fall of easily leaving leathery sepals that last through the snows of a northern winter! The pistil, or female part of the flower, has a style that expands into a large, star shaped umbrella that droops downward creating a landing platform for pollen.

Fruit/Seed: is a small capsule that is between 1.5-1.8 cm wide and covered with small rounded warts (tuberculate).

Photo Credits:

Title photo: Noah Flbardt, (Wikimedia commons). Habitat/Distribution photo: USDA Plant Database.  Leaves photo: Eaden Horticulture, The Garden of Eaden (http://eaden1.rssing.com/).  Flower photo: J. Holden, (musicianonskis.ca/blog). Fruit/Seed photo: Robert Co, (http://thepitcherplantproject.com/).


Carracenia Oreophila.” Centerforplantconservation.org. Center for Plant Conservation, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015. <http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/collection/CPC_ViewProfile.asp?CPCNum=3821>.

“Sarracenia – the Pitcher Plants.” Sarracenia, Carnivorous Plants Online. Botanical Society of America, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015. <http://botany.org/Carnivorous_Plants/Sarracenia.php>.

“Species Profile for Green Pitcher-plant (Sarracenia Oreophila).” Species Profile for Green Pitcher-plant (Sarracenia Oreophila). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Environmental Online Conservation System, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015. <http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=Q21B>.

“Sarracenia Oreophila.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarracenia_oreophila>.

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