Trumpet Pitcher Plants & Cobra Lily

Sarracenia & Darlingtonia

Sarracenia are the pitcher plants of North America. There are about 8 different species and numerous different subspecies and hybrids.

As the name Trumpet pitcher suggests the traps are like a tall vase, with a lip edging the opening and the lid hanging over the trap to attract its insect prey with sweet nectar. Once inside they come across downwards pointing hairs so they fall below.

S. psittacina has a different method, these pitcher form a long ground hugging tube with a large elaborate hood with a small mouth in it. Once the insects enters the trap it can not get out because the mouth acts as a valve with hundreds of sharp hairs preventing the exit of the prey.

Another related plant is Darlingtonia californica which has extremely elaborate traps. These traps are tall with a large puff, emerging from the trap is forked tongue structure hence the name "Cobra Lily." The prey enters a hole at the bottom of the puff and like S. psittacina the entrance prevents anything from retreating, however there are windows in the trap which attracts the insects and they fly into them tumbling into the trap below.

The flowers of both Sarracenia and Darlingtonia are amazing to look at. Sarracenia flowers are produced before the pitchers to prevent the capture of it's bee pollinators, the flowers have a unique structure, the flowers are held in a nodding position so the style, which is fused to create a platform, can catch the pollen from the anthers above, as they enter each flower the bees brush past the stigma and thus pollination is complete. Darlingtonia flowers look similar but are much simpler.




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