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Bright red flowers emerge from a bog with a forest in the background.
Information icon Mountain sweet pitcher plant patch in Butt CPA. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

Mountain sweet pitcher plant

Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii

The mountain sweet pitcher plant is an insectivorious species is native to bogs and a few streamsides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North and South Carolina.

Appearance

Mountain sweet pitcher plant is a carnivorous perennial herb with tall, hollow pitcher-shaped leaves and red sweet-smelling flowers. The unusual red flowers (yellow in rare cases) appear from April to June, with fruits ripening in August. Flowering plants reach up to 29 inches.

Dozens of tall, narrow cylindrical plants with tints of maroon.
Mountain sweet pitcher plant pitcher at Riverbend CPA. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

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

This insectivorous species is native to bogs and a few streamsides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and South Carolina. Other (coastal plain) species of this genus are known to benefit from periodic fire, which reduces woody competition; however there is some evidence that this mountain species may actually be harmed by fire. More research on management and biological requirements of the species is needed. Mountain sweet pitcher plant is also seriously threatened by collectors.

A deep maroon flower emerges from lush vegetation.
Service botanist Carolyn Wells examining a mountain sweet pitcher plant. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

Diet

The plant’s hollow leaves contain liquid and enzymes. When insects fall into the pitchers, they’re digested and the nutrients in the bodies 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.

Range

Mountain sweet pitcher plant is found only in a few mountain bogs and streams in southwestern North Carolina and northwestern South Carolina along the Blue Ridge Divide.

Conservation challenges

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.

A deep maroon flower opening from the shape of a circle into a star.
Mountain purple pitcher plant bloom at Riverbend CPA. Photo by Gary Peeples, USFWS.

Recovery criteria

Four self-sustaining populations within each occupied drainage must be permanently protected.

Actions needed

  • Survey suitable habitat for additional populations.
  • Monitor and protect existing populations.
  • Conduct research on the biology of the species.
  • Establish new populations or rehabilitate marginal populations to the point where they are self-sustaining.
  • Investigate and conduct necessary management activities at all key sites.

Download the recovery plan.

How you can help

  • Tread lightly and stay on designated trails.
  • Visit arboretums, botanical gardens, and parks and learn all you can about endangered plants and the causes of their declines.
  • Don’t collect or buy plants collected from wild populations.
  • Participate in the protection of our remaining wild lands and the restoration of damaged ecosystems.
  • Support wetland protection efforts at local, state, and national levels.
  • Establish and maintain forested stream-side buffers. Several federal, state, and private programs are available to assist landowners, both technically and financially, with restoring and protecting stream-side buffers and eroding streams.
  • Implement and maintain measures for controlling erosion and stormwater during and after land-clearing and disturbance activities. Excess soil in our streams from erosion is one of the greatest water pollution problems we have today.
  • Be careful with the use and disposal of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals.
  • Remember, what you put on your land or dump down the drain may eventually wind up in nearby water.
  • Support local, state and national clean water legislation.
  • Report illegal dumping activities, erosion, and sedimentation problems. These activities affect the quality of our water, for drinking, fishing, and swimming.

Subject matter expert

Designated critical habitat

No critical habitat has been designated.

Federal register notices

The following Federal Register documents were automatically gathered by searching the Federal Register Official API with this species’ scientific name ordered by relevance. You can conduct your own search on the Federal Register website.

  • We're sorry but an error occurred. Visit the Federal Register to conduct your own search.

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