Sarracenia alabamensis subsp. wherryi spring pitchers and flower.
Sarracenia alabamensis spring pitchers. These pitchers will flop and lay on the ground even in full sun.
Sarracenia alabamensis in the fall after most of the spring pitchers have died back and been removed. This plant is a long-lid selection.
S. jonesii fall pitchers showing the typical long lid and throat bulge.
Sarracenia jonesii flower with spring pitchers in the background.
The Sarracenia rubra
complex is currently considered to consist of at least three species and two subspecies: Sarracenia rubra
, Sarracenia rubra
, Sarracenia alabamensis
, Sarracenia alabamensis
, and Sarracenia jonesii
. There is another subspecies in need of a name. These may all be referred to as Sarracenia rubra
subspecies by some authors.
In the wild, the
plants are found
in diverse habitats of the southeastern USA with each species or subspecies found in a different typical habitat and locality.
The pitchers of the Sarracenia rubra subspecies vary in the
size, amount of venation, and color of the pitchers. Spring
pitchers may be rather floppy. Fall pitchers are more robust
and pigmented. Summer pitchers can be intermediate. The flowers
are deep red to maroon and may or may not have an intense rose-like scent. The flowers are relatively small
when compared to other Sarracenia species, but also unlike the other species, it is common
to get multiple flowers per growth point.
Sarracenia rubra subsp. rubra is found in the grassy
coastal plains from southeastern North Carolina to northeastern
Georgia usually along stream and marsh margins. In cultivation,
the plants tend to be small and weedy with
pitchers usually 20 to 30 cm tall. They can reach
45 cm in the wild. They have a narrow mouth width of 1.5
to 2.3 cm. Even with full sun, the pitchers of this subspecies
be quite floppy in the spring.
Sarracenia rubra subsp. gulfensis grows in seepage bogs
and along small streams in northwest Florida. It has very
tall pitchers in the
range of 40 to 60 cm, usually the upper end of that range.
The pitcher mouth is usually 2.4 to 3.5 cm wide.
This subspecies is very much like a very tall and more robust
Sarracenia rubra subsp. rubra although
the spring pitchers are not floppy.
There is a population of Sarracenia rubra in need of proper
classification as a distinct subspecies in the sand hill
seepage bogs at the fall line in
Taylor County, Georgia. The fall line is a transition
zone characterized by a sharp drop in topography resulting
in streams having falls. Many very rare plants are found
in this habitat. In cultivation, the Sarracenia rubra plants
from this location appear to be intermediate
in form between Sarracenia jonesii and
Sarracenia rubra subsp. gulfensis. They have the growth habit and size
of Sarracenia jonesii
without the distinctive taxonomic characters of that species.
The plants are currently nicknamed "Ancestral" because they
are upstream from Sarracenia rubra subsp. gulfensis
and thus potentially an ancestor of that subspecies.
Based on this reasoning, Don Schnell considers the central
Georgia population as Sarracenia rubra subsp. gulfensis until
someone officially publishes a taxonomic description of it.
Sarracenia alabamensis is
found in boggy soils around springs in wooded or shrubby
areas along the fall line in central Alabama. This species
is listed as an endangered species. This species tends to have fine red venation and can have
a copper blush in the upper part of the pitcher. The hood
tends to be yellow and the yellow cast can
extend down the tube. The insides of the pitcher can have
intense red venation. The upper part of the pitchers may
also have faint areoles (light windows) on the back.
The pitchers of this species tend to be the most robust
of the group. They are usually 18 to 49 cm tall with a mouth
width up to 6 cm.
alabamensis subsp. wherryi is found in the coastal plain
in southwestern Alabama. In character it is intermediate
between Sarracenia rubra subsp. rubra and Sarracenia alabamensis.
It has has slightly more robust pitchers and fewer red
veins than Sarracenia rubra subsp. rubra and tends to pick up some of the yellow cast of Sarracenia alabamensis.
The pitchers range 28 to 43 cm tall with a 3.4 to 5.3 cm
Sarracenia jonesii is
found in mountain seepage bogs of North Carolina. It is
listed as an endangered species. This species is found upstream of Sarracenia rubra subsp. rubra
and in many respects is a more robust form of that species.
Its pitchers tend to be on the order of 40 to 60 cm tall
with a mouth width of 3 to 4 cm. It is distinctive
in having a very long hood and neck bulge below the pitcher lip. The upper part of the pitcher
and hood can be coppery in some selections. The species
also has all red and all green
forms. Many of the rare form plants in cultivation are
progeny of stolen plants.
In addition to the problem of stolen plants, it's a violation
of the Federal Endangered Species Act to transport endangered
species across state lines for sale and a violation of
CITES to transport endangered species internationally
without permits for any reason. You might consider these facts before purchasing
or otherwise acquiring Sarracenia jonesii or Sarracenia alabamensis plants
without proper documentation. The ICPS recommends you
keep all information (sales receipts, letters,
etc.) that document your acquisitions of these rare plants
in case you are ever asked by authorities
to prove your plants were obtained legally.
Adult plants of all Sarracenia rubra species group species enjoy
full sun outdoors. They do best in peat/sand soil mixtures.
Make sure you use a large enough
pot as the plants tend not to like being transplanted—they
don't die, they just take a year or two to get back to their
Like other Sarracenia, the species of the Sarracenia rubra complex require seasons
in order to survive long term. Typical summer temperatures
where they grow naturally are in the mid 30's C (90's F).
Winter temperatures can be below freezing at times. However
seedlings make excellent terrarium plants without winter dormancy
for up to two years. The seedlings do tend to be very slow
growing. Adult plants of this species are very dependent
on light and temperature cues to determine when to grow and
what type of leaves to form. The terrarium to outdoor transition
can be difficult. It can take a confused plant a year to
get into seasonal sync. I find the best time to do the transition to a natural light cycle is early winter.
For producing seeds and growing seedlings, you may use the
general guidelines for growing Sarracenia from seed except remember that these species do best in peat mixes.
The plants should always be sitting in pure water when they
are growing. They should be top-watered regularly to maintain
the oxygen levels for the roots and to keep salt levels down
in the soil.
For more information please see:
About Carnivorous Plants: Evolution of the Ericales Carnivores
Growing Sarracenia from Seed
Making Sarracenia Hybrids
Display Sarracenia on your deck
Growing Carnivores in Canada
Dividing Sarracenia Step-by-Step
Sarracenia Rhizome Rot
Schnell, Donald (1982) A Photographic Primer of Variants of Sarracenia rubra Walt.. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 11(2):41-45 (
Mellichamp, T.L. Editor (1987) Descriptions of Sarracenia alabamensis ssp. alabamensis, S. oreophila, S. jonesii. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 16(2):31-36 (
Schnell, D.E. (2002) Carnivorous Plants
of the United States and Canada. Timber Press. Portland, Oregon.
McPherson, S., and Schnell, D. (2011) Sarraceniaceae of North America. Redfern Natural History Productions Ltd., Poole.
in a greenhouse. Note the weedy nature of the plant.