Sarracenia oreophila

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Green pitcher plant
Sarracenia oreophila ne3.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Sarraceniaceae
Genus: Sarracenia
S. oreophila
Binomial name
Sarracenia oreophila
(Kearney) Wherry (1933)
Sarracenia oreophila range.png
Sarracenia oreophila range
  • Sarracenia catesbaei
    auct. non Elliott: (auct. non Mast.: Mohr) Mohr (1901)
  • Sarracenia flava var. catesbaei
    auct. non Mast.: Mohr (1897)
  • Sarracenia flava var. oreophila
    Kearney (1900)
  • Sarracenia flava
    auct. non L.: Macfarl. (1908)
    [=S. flava/S. oreophila]

Sarracenia oreophila, also known as the green pitcherplant,[1] is a carnivorous plant in the genus Sarracenia. It has highly modified leaves in the form of pitchers that act as pitfall traps for prey. The narrow pitcher leaves are tapered tubes that rise up to 75 centimetres from the ground, with a mouth 6 to 10 centimetres in circumference [2] Like all the Sarracenia, it is native to the New World. Sarracenia oreophila is the most endangered of all Sarracenia species, its range limited to a handful of sites in northern Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia, and—historically--Tennessee.[3]

Origin of name[edit]

Saracenia oreophila takes its name from the mountainous regions where it grows. The generic name Sarracenia is from Michel Sarrazin (1659–1734), a French-Canadian naturalist who first described a specimen of the genus, and oreophila literally means "mountain-loving," from Greek oreophilos (oros, -eos, "mountain," + philos, "loving").

Morphology and carnivory[edit]

The tubular leaves of the green pitcher plant lure, trap, and digest insect prey

Like other members of the genus Sarracenia, the green pitcherplant traps insects using a tubular rolled leaf which collects digestive juices at the bottom. The pitcher tube of this species is similar to that of Sarracenia flava, but has a wider pitcher mouth and neck and is usually somewhat shorter, reaching only 60 cm. (24 in). The uppermost part of the leaf is flared into a lid (the operculum), which prevents excess rain from entering the pitcher and diluting the digestive secretions within. The upper regions of the pitcher are covered in short, stiff, downwards-pointing hairs, which serve to guide insects alighting on the upper portions of the leaf towards the opening of the pitcher tube. The opening of the pitcher tube is retroflexed into a 'nectar roll' or peristome, whose surface is studded with nectar-secreting glands. Prey entering the tube find that their footing is made extremely uncertain by the smooth, waxy secretions found on the surfaces of the upper portion of the tube. Insects losing their footing on this surface plummet to the bottom of the tube, where a combination of digestive fluid, wetting agents and inward-pointing hairs prevent their escape. Some large insects (such as wasps) have been reported to escape from the pitchers on occasion, by chewing their way out through the wall of the tube.[4]

Pitchers can vary from all green plants to lightly and heavily veined examples, as well as clones with heavily pigmented throats. Traps also take on a pink or red flush as they age.[4]


Detail of S. oreophila flower
See also the section on Sarracenia flowers in the main article.

In spring, the plant produces large, yellow flowers with 5-fold symmetry. The yellow petals are long and strap-like, and dangle over the umbrella-like style of the flower, which is held upside down at the end of a 50 cm long scape. The stigma of the flower are found at the tips of the 'spokes' of this umbrella. Pollinating insects generally enter the flower from above, forcing their way into the cavity between the petals and umbrella, and depositing any pollen they are carrying on the stigmata as they enter. The pollinators generally exit the flower, having been dusted with the plant's own pollen, by lifting a petal. This one-way system helps to ensure cross pollination.[4]

Growth cycle[edit]

In late summer and autumn, the plant stops producing carnivorous leaves, and instead produces flat, non-carnivorous phyllodia. In this species these are highly recurved. The natural habitat of this species dries quickly during July and the small phyllodia are probably easier to maintain with the little water available than its spring pitchers. This is a genetic adaptation and plants kept permanently wet in cultivation also lose their pitchers in mid summer. Also of note is the simultaneous flowering and pitchering at the beginning of the season as drier conditions prevent later growth of pitchers post flower production.


The International Carnivorous Plant Society recognizes three cultivars of this species as follows:

  • S. oreophila 'Don Schnell'
  • S. oreophila 'Heavily Veined'
  • S. oreophila 'Sand Mountain'

The cultivar 'Don Schnell', unfortunately, is extinct—the only specimen died in a greenhouse catastrophe.


Green pitcher plant habitat

The green pitcher plant has suffered a devastating decline throughout its former range. Development for both urban and rural uses has led to the widespread alteration of the specific bog habitat of this species. Pitcher plants have also been over-collected for the commercial plant trade; such rare and unusual species are very popular with collectors. Today, around 34 naturally occurring populations persist but these are small and highly fragmented; most consist of fewer than 50 individuals.[5][6]


Green pitcherplants are listed as Endangered on the United States Endangered Species Act and there is an Action Plan for their recovery.[7] The Recovery Plan focuses on the effective protection of existing populations, as the most important threat to the future of the green pitcher plant is over-collection.[8] Collection is banned by legislation within the United States and also internationally by the listing of this species on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).[9] Ex-situ conservation measures are also in place; seeds are stored at the USDA National Seed Technology Laboratory in Fort Collins, and Atlanta Botanical Garden is propagating plants from seeds for future reintroduction programmes.[8]


  1. ^ "Sarracenia oreophila". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  2. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (March, 2003)
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Flora of North America, Sarracenia oreophila Wherry, 1933. Green pitcher plant
  5. ^ 5.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Affairs (March, 2003)
  6. ^ Schnell, D., P. Catling, G. Folkerts, C. Frost, R. Gardner, et al. 2000. Sarracenia oreophila. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 24 September 2007.
  7. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (March, 2003)
  8. ^ a b U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Affairs (March, 2003)
  9. ^ 3.CITES (March, 2003)

This article incorporates text from the ARKive fact-file "Sarracenia oreophila" under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GFDL.

External links[edit]

Sarracenia oreophila media from ARKive Edit this at Wikidata