Pinguicula vulgaris

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Pinguicula vulgaris
Pinguicula vulgaris flower (front view) - Keila.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lentibulariaceae
Genus: Pinguicula
P. vulgaris
Binomial name
Pinguicula vulgaris

Pinguicula vulgaris, the common butterwort, is a perennial carnivorous plant in the bladderwort family, Lentibulariaceae.


It grows to a height of 3–16 cm, and is topped with a purple, and occasionally white, flower that is 15 mm or longer, and shaped like a funnel. This butterwort grows in damp environments such as bogs and swamps, in low or subalpine elevations.[1] Being native to environments with cold winters, they produce a winter-resting bud (hibernaculum). There are three forms originating from Europe: P. vulgaris f. bicolor which has petals that are white and purple; P. vulgaris f. albida which has all white petals; and P. vulgaris f. alpicola which has larger flowers.[2] The taxonomic status of these forms is not universally recognised - see e.g. The Plant List.[3]

Common butterwort is an insectivorous plant. Its leaves have glands that excrete a sticky fluid which traps insects to its leaves; its glands also produce digestive enzymes which work to consume the insects externally.[4] This serves as a way for the plant to access a source of nitrogen as they generally grow in soil that is acidic and low in nutrients, such as bogs.[4][5] Insect capture is an adaptation to nutrient-poor conditions, and the plant is highly dependent on insects for nitrogen.[6]


It has a generally circumboreal distribution, being native to almost every country in Europe as well as Russia, Canada, and the United States.[5][7] It is generally found growing in places such as bogs, fens, alvars, and other areas with limestone bedrock and alkaline waters.[5]


  1. ^ Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Lone Pine Publishing, 1994. p. 351
  2. ^ The Savage Garden, Revised: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants. Random House LLC, 2013.
  3. ^ "The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1.: Pinguicula vulgaris L." London, U.K.: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Nature up close: The carnivorous Butterwort plant". CBS News. June 14, 2018. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  5. ^ a b c "A Circumboreal Butterwort". In Defense of Plants. December 30, 2015. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Anderberg, Arne. "Den Virtuella Floran, Pinguicula vulgaris L." Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.

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