Herbs, clump- or mat-forming, not stoloniferous; rhizomes horizontal or vertical. Pitchers marcescent or persistent, erect to ascending or decumbent to sprawling, usually monomorphic (sometimes trimorphic in S. alabamensis, summer forms differing from spring forms), not twisted, green, yellow-green, reddish, or purplish, tubiform, gradually tapering from base to orifice (urceolate in S. purpurea, S. rosea), firm or soft, exterior surface glabrous or finely pubescent; orifice round to oval, not facing ground, opening terminally except in S. psittacina, gaping or partly to completely covered by hood; hood arising abaxially from rim of orifice, erect to recurved adaxially, ovate to orbiculate or reniform, flattened or dome-shaped (subglobose in S. psittacina), not lobed, proximal margins cordate to attenuate, often forming distinct neck, apex apiculate (not apiculate in S. purpurea, S. rosea). Phyllodia absent or persistent, produced in mid summer, green, oblanciform or falcate. Scapes 1 (sometimes 2 in S. alabamensis, S. jonesii, S. rubra), longer or shorter than pitcher; bracts 3, usually appressed or adjacent to sepals, clasping, spreading or arched, ovate-triangular or ovate-oblong, apex obtuse to rounded. Flowers usually odoriferous (fragrant as in roses or ill-scented as in cat urine), rarely odorless (S. minor); sepals persistent, broadly ovate-triangular or ovate, margins entire, apex obtuse or rounded; petals deciduous, only slightly touching basally, pendulous between lobes of style disc, pandurate, the larger distal portions obovate, orbiculate, ovate, or elliptic, margins entire or erose, apex rounded; stamens 50-100, barely coherent at base in 10-17 vague fascicles, falling separately; filaments slightly variable in length; anthers dorsifixed, not versatile; ovary globose to conic, shallowly 5-lobed, apex rounded; style distally expanded into broad umbrellalike disc with midribs (arms) extending into 5 evenly spaced, reflexed, distally notched lobes; stigmas simple, filiform, (1 mm), at base of style-disc notches, (inflexed). Capsules globose to ovoid, coarsely tuberculate, basipetally dehiscent (acropetally dehiscent in S. leucophylla). Seeds 400-1000, irregularly clavate to reniform-obovate, laterally keeled, tuberculate to reticulate-tuberculate. x = 13. Sarracenia species are among the most beautiful and intriguing plants in the world; we know very little of their phylogenetic origins and affinities. They have been important ornamental plants since the early nineteenth century. Artificial hybrids were made in England in the late nineteenth century (J. H. Veitch 1906). Today, all species and some natural and man-made hybrids are widely grown by hobbyists and botanical gardens around the world. In Sarracenia, recognition of some species is often based less on flower traits than on subtle characteristics of the pitcher leaves. Species determinations must be done using the largest, most mature pitchers from healthy plants growing in moist soil and full sun. Pitchers from heavily shaded or dry sites may be smaller, flat like phyllodial leaves, or weak and decumbent. The keys here are based on typical pitcher traits. It is best to examine multiple leaves from multiple plants in a population and to note presence or absence of phyllodia. In addition, distinctly different types and sizes of leaves may be produced throughout the growing season, and these are noted in the species descriptions.
The pitchers of Sarracenia may be produced before, during, or after the emergence of the flowers; pitcher phenology can be useful for species identification. Flower buds are initiated during late summer, remaining dormant until the following spring. Sometimes, these flowers may bloom out of season in late summer or fall. The pitchers of certain species are marcescent, withering in the winter but not abscising. Other species have persistent pitchers.
Sarracenia species hybridize readily. The hybrids are fertile and may backcross and interbreed to form hybrid swarms. The swarms are legendary along the Gulf Coast (and may have increased due to habitat disturbance), leading to great confusion in species identification. At the end of this treatment, we have enumerated the known naturally occurring F1 hybrids.
Nearly every species of Sarracenia has been found in the wild in an anthocyanin-free form, lacking the normal red coloration in the flowers or pitchers. One of these all-yellow variants from the Northeast is well known and has been named S. purpurea forma heterophylla (Eaton)Fernald, the epithet referring to sun and shade pitchers of different morphologies on the type specimen. Most other color variants have not been named. Amateur collectors frequently refer to yellow variants of any taxon as the 'heterophylla form.' These plants are very rare and virtually unrepresented in herbaria.
Sarracenia habitats in the Southeast are maintained by fire. This is especially true in the pine flatwoods and savannas. Without frequent fires, these open, sunny, acidic, low-nutrient habitats quickly become dense thickets of woody or grassy vegetation. The pitcher plants will invariably be shaded, and app
Sep 5, broad and spreading; pet 5, incurved, soon deciduous; stamens many; ovary large, subglobose; style slender at base, above extended into 5 rays connected by tissue and forming a 5-angled or -lobed, umbrella-shaped body with the minute stigmas beneath it at the angles; fls solitary on scapes; lvs bearing a broad or narrow wing along the adaxial side and prolonged beyond the pitcher on the abaxial side into a broad hood; x=13. 8, e. N. Amer.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.