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A Group Of Wild Flowers
Wildflower Families:
 Dogwood Family

 Orchid Family

 Honeysuckle Family

 Pitcher Plant Family

 Jewel—weed Family

 Water Lily Family

 Water Plantian Family

 Dogbane Family

 Lobelia Family

 Mint Family

 Read More Articles About: Wildflower Families

Pitcher Plant Family

( Originally Published 1908 )


In the more northern states the curious family of Pitcher Plants is represented by but a single species. The members of this group are especially characterized by the modification of the leaves into pitchers that hold water and that serve as traps for various sorts of insects. They also have flowers strange and interesting in structure, although these are not so often seen as are the leaves.

PITCHER PLANT. The Sarracenia or Pitcher Plant is one of the most interesting of the plants that blossom in June. To find it you must seek some boggy retreat where the wet carpet of sphagnum moss is made wetter still by the water contained in the pitcher-shaped leaves of this Sarracenia. If you pull tip one of the plants you will find that it is anchored in place by a very few scraggly roots that take hold of the surrounding moss, but if you look for rich soil from which plant food may be derived you will see that there is practically none. And when you are led to wonder where the Sarracenia gets the material with which to make its lusty growth you should split open one of the leaves and examine the contents of the pitcher. You will probably find inside a rich débris of insect remains among which you can trace the outlines of flies, beetles, and possibly small moths, as well as various other insects. When you see this mass of liquefied organisms you can easily agree with the botanists that the plant probably gets part at least of the materials for growth from these decaying contents.

If now you examine the structure of the leaf you cannot fail to be impressed with its perfection as an insect trap. Throughout most of its length it is a closed tube : at the top it is open but the upper parts of the leaf are well adapted to sending insects to the watery grave below. The whole mouth of the pitcher is thickly covered with spinous hairs that point obliquely downward, so that a fly is likely to find difficulty in crawling upward on them. The leaf is also colored, wherever the veins run, in a purplish red that is believed to be attractive to certain sorts of flies.

In the latitude of southern New England the Pitcher Plants blossom early in June. The flow-ers are striking objects borne on long stems that turn downward at the top. They are visited by queen bumble-bees that gather pollen and bring about the cross-fertilization of the blossoms. A peat bog with a number of these flowers hanging above the moss is one of the most interesting sights in the world of flowers.

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