The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant, in essence, a meat eater. Carnivorous plants are often found in nitrogen poor soils and have adapted to living in nutrient poor soil by consuming insects. Pitcher plants can be found in warm climates around the world.
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Pitcher plants are called such because of their tall water pitcher shaped leaves. The bottom of each "pitcher" contains a small amount of fluid.
There are three families of pitcher plants: the American, Old World and Australian. While all types of pitcher plants may be purchased in nurseries. In the wild, different families of pitchers are specific to certain world areas.
The American family is composed of the genus Sarraceniaceae. American pitchers include the sarracenia of eastern North America, darlingtonia of California, heliamphora of South America and the common pitcher plant, purpurea. The common pitcher can be found growing in bogs from Florida to Iowa.
Old World Pitchers
The old world pitchers are found mainly in China and Borneo. The old world pitcher (Nepenthaceae) has also been introduced in to Australia. Old world pitchers are often cultivated in nurseries because of their large showy leaves.
The native Australian pitchers are all of the Cephalotus follicularis type. These plants have small brightly colored pitchers and are unique because of their pitchers having lids and teeth.
The fluid in the bottom of the pitcher is a mixture of rainwater and an enzyme containing plant nectars. When an insect crawls into the pitcher to collect the nectar it become trapped and drowns. Next, enzymes and bacteria in the fluid break down the insect to be absorbed by the plant.