Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America

Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii)

Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant. Credit: USFWS

Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant. Credit: USFWS

Family: Pitcher Plant (Sarraceniaceae)

Federal Status: Endangered, listed September 30, 1988

Best Search Time: April through October

Description: Mountain sweet pitcher plant is a carnivorous perennial herb with tall, hollow pitcher-shaped leaves and red sweet-smelling flowers. The hollow leaves contain liquid and enzymes. When insects fall into the pitchers, they’re digested and the nutrients are incorporated into the plant’s tissues. The evolutionary role of carnivory in such plants is not fully understood, but some evidence indicates that absorption of minerals from insect prey may allow carnivorous species to compete in nutrient-poor habitats. The unusual red flowers (yellow in rare cases) appear from April to June, with fruits ripening in August. Flowering plants reach heights of 29 inches (74 centimeters). Very little specific information is available on the biology of mountain sweet pitcher plant. Like other pitcher plants, it has rhizomes that are probably long-lived and capable of persisting and reproducing vegetatively for decades without producing seedlings.

Habitat: Mountain sweet pitcher plants are found in mountain bogs.

map of Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant distribution in North Carolina

Map of Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant distribution in North Carolina.

Distribution: Mountain sweet pitcher plants are known from the upstate of South Carolina and southwestern North Carolina.

Threats: The most serious threat to mountain sweet pitcher plant is the destruction or degradation of its small wetland habitat. Collecting from wild populations continues to be a problem for carnivorous plants, even though cultivated sources are available for almost all species.

References:

Buchanan, M.F. and J.T. Finnegan. 2010. Natural Heritage Program List of the Rare Plant Species of North Carolina. N.C. Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, NC.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia. 39 pp.

For More Information on Mountain sweet pitcher plant...

Species Contact:

Mara Alexander, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 828-258-3939 ext. 238

Species profile revised on September 15, 2011.

Last Updated: November 1, 2012