Friday, May 1, 2020

Yellow/Trumpet-leaved Pitcher Plant - Sarracenia flava

Yellow pitcher plant is one of the most widely distributed members of this amazing genus in Florida. Relatively common to low, boggy acidic savannas of the Florida Panhandle, it also is vouchered for Alachua, Baker and Hamilton Counties in the north-central peninsula.  It extends its natural range into the two states that border us and then occurs up the Southeastern Coastal Plain into New jersey, where it is rare. Throughout its range it is considered an obligate wetland plant.
Yellow pitcher plant is a robust deciduous species. The tall pitchers and the basal foliage die back to the ground each fall and reappear in early spring. The basal leaves are largely unnoticed in the savanna foliage, but the large modified leaf that comprises the pitcher grows quickly and reaches a mature height of 2-2 1/2 feet. As the above photos show, it is not uncommon to find individuals in populations that are distinctly red - growing with those that are pure yellow. These photos were taken in Apalachicola National Forest, near the town of Sumatra.
Flowers are similar in shape to others in this genus. They are in full bloom by early June and last a short time before maturing as a seed capsule.

Developing Seed Capsule
Pitcher plants, in general, fascinated a great many people and lead sometimes to a desire to poach plants for a home landscape. This, of course, should never be done. Pitcher plants are difficult for most gardeners as they require very specific soil and moisture conditions to thrive. If you can provide this unique bog situation, there are nurseries that propagate hybrids that seem more vigorous and less demanding than the species. Occasionally, a reputable nursery offers this and a few other species for sale also. If you are tempted, make sure that their plants are legally grown. In my mind, this species and its relatives are best admired in the wild.

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