Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pitcher Plants in Willoughby Bog

Purple pitcher plant (2)

Sarracenia purpurea L. ssp. gibbosa (Raf.) Wherry purple pitcherplant

Willoughby Bog is famous for its carnivorous plants. On the boardwalk through the bog you can study dozens of young and mature pitchers. Above is a mature, established pitcher plant with tall pitchers. Wild cranberries grow all around the pitchers throughout the bog.

Purple pitcher plant (5)

Above, John shows us the hairs that are inside each pitcher. The hairs point downwards and prevent the insects inside from crawling out.

Purple pitcher plant (14)

There is a nectar-like fluid inside each pitcher that is called pitfall trap fluid. It mimics nectar to entice bugs to enter the pitcher (the pitcher is actually a cupped leaf). The insect drowns and enzymes in the fluid digest it. As the plant matures, the pitfall trap fluid contains more bacteria to aid in digestion.

Purple pitcher plant (19)

The pitcher plant above is a younger pitcher plant.

Purple pitcher plant (20)

Above: You see a flower of a pitcher plant as it grows near the trail in the bog. Below are three more photographs of pitcher plant flowers.

Purple pitcher plant (21)
Purple pitcher plant (22)
Purple pitcher plant (36)

Below: the hairs inside a mature pitcher.

Purple pitcher plant (27)

Below you see the purple, vein-like markings on the outside of the pitchers. These markings lure insects to the plant, which think they are blood vessels.

Purple pitcher plant (32)

We had a grand time photographing and learning about pitchers. I'm going back next year to photograph more and different phases of the life cycle of these fascinating plants.



1 comment:

  1. That's exciting to see them in the "wild". Those sure do look like veins! Thanks so much for sharing.


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