Ed Golson Outdoor Education

Pitcher's Thistle

Scientific Name: Sarracenia purpurea

Description: The pitcher plant is a very unusual plant. In addition to making food through photosynthesis like all plants, the pitcher plant is also carnivorous , meaning it eats meat.  The pitcher plant's leaves are modified to form a pitcher-like shape. The bottom of this pitcher is filled with sweet nectar, rain water and digestive juices. Insects smell the nectar and fly in hoping for a meal, but they get trapped inside the juices. The insect can't climb out because the inside of the leaves are covered with tiny hairs that all point down. The insects don't have anything to grab onto. Once they get stuck, the pitcher plant uses its digestive juices to dissolve the insect and absorbs the valuable nutrients from their bodies.


The pitcher plant needs the nutrients from the insects because it usually lives in bogs where the soil is very acidic and low in nutrients. The plant doesn't need to eat meat to survive, but it does help them quite a bit.






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