northern purple pitcherplant

(Sarracenia purpurea ssp. purpurea)

Conservation Status
northern purple pitcherplant
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

OBL - Obligate wetland


OBL - Obligate wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

OBL - Obligate wetland


Northern purple pitcherplant is an easily recognized, long-lived, carnivorous plant. There are no other plants in Minnesota that even vaguely resemble it. It occurs in the United States from Maine to New Jersey west to Minnesota, in Washington State, and throughout southern Canada. It is found in bogs, fens, swamps and peatlands. It grows under full sun in sphagnum moss or in soil that has both peat and sand. It obtains most of its nutrients from captured insects. The soil it grows in is nutrient-poor and usually acidic, and cannot support many other plants. Individual plants can live up to 50 years in favorable conditions. However, its population has been declining due to habitat loss and possibly to nitrogen deposition from air pollution.

Northern purple pitcherplant is a native, perennial, carnivorous forb. It rises on a radiating cluster (rosette) of 6 to 10 leaves and a single flowering stem from an underground stem (rhizome) and fibrous roots. It often forms dense clumps, sometimes floating masses at the edges of bog ponds and lakes. The rhizome is short, to (3 to 15 mm) in diameter, and usually vertical, sometimes horizontal.

The leaves are modified into pitchers. The pitchers appear with or after the flowers and persist throughout the summer. They may be upright, curve upward from the base (ascending), or decline on the ground with just the tip ascending (decumbent). They are variable in color, usually green with reddish-purple veins, often reddish-purple just near the tip, sometimes completely reddish-purple. They are firm, slightly S-curved, and bulging in the middle. They are usually 2 to 10 (5 to 25 cm) long, rarely up to 17¾ (45 cm) long, and 1316 to 2 (3 to 6 cm) in circumference at its widest point, 3½ times as long as wide. The outer surface is hairless, sometimes waxy. The orifice is round to oval, 916 to 1716 (14 to 36 mm) wide, and open to the sky, allowing the pitcher to collect rainwater.

Each pitcher has a winged extension on the upper (inner) side and a hood at the top. The wing is to 1316 (1 to 3 cm) wide. The hood is thick, erect, heart-shaped, notched at the tip, ¾ to 2 (2 to 5 cm) long, and 1316 to 2¾ (3 to 7 cm) wide. The two rounded lobes at the base arch inward over the orifice. The inner surface is covered with numerous, stiff, downward-pointing, 164 to 116 (0.6 to 2.2 mm) long hairs.

The inflorescence is a single flower at the end of a long, leafless, stalk (scape). The scape is hairless, erect, green to reddish-purple, and 8 to 31 (22 to 79 cm) long.

The flower is 2 to 2½ wide and droops at the end of the scape. There are 5 outer floral leaves (sepals), 5 petals, 50 to 100 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are purplish-red, broadly egg-shaped–triangular, to 1 (22 to 42 mm) long, and to 1 (15 to 35 mm) wide. They curve inward just at the tips. The petals are red to maroon, and are fiddle-shaped, with a small basal portion and a large outer (distal) portion. They curve inward, covering the style. The distal portion is broadly egg-shaped, 1516 to 2116 (33 to 53 mm) long, and to 1316 (15 to 30 mm) wide. The stamens are grouped into 10 to 17 bundles. The style is expanded at the tip into a very broad, 1916 to 2 (4 to 5 cm) in diameter, umbrella-like disk with 5 inward-curved arms.

The fruit is a globe-shaped or egg-shaped, to ¾ (1 to 2 cm) in diameter capsule. As the capsule develops the petals drop off but the sepals persist.




8 to 31 (22 to 79 cm)


Flower Color




Similar Species


Wet. Bogs, marshes, swamps, fens, and peatlands. Full sun. Acidic soil with sphagnum moss or peat and sand.




March to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Ericales (heathers, balsams, primroses, and allies)  


Sarraceniaceae (New World pitcher plants)  


Sarracenia (North American pitcher plants)  
  Species Sarracenia purpurea (purple pitcher plant)  

Subordinate Taxa


northern purple pitcherplant (Sarracenia purpurea f. heterophylla)

northern purple pitcherplant (Sarracenia purpurea f. purpurea)






Common Names


common pitcherplant


northern pitcher plant

northern pitcherplant

northern purple pitcher plant

northern purple pitcherplant


purple pitcher plant

purple pitcherplant

side-saddle flower

sweet pitcherplant

turtle socks













Growing upward at an angle or curving upward from the base.



Reclining on the ground but with the tip ascending.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



A radiating group or cluster of leaves usually on or close to the ground.



On plants: An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster. On insects: The basal segment of the antenna.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.






    northern purple pitcherplant   northern purple pitcherplant  
    northern purple pitcherplant      


    northern purple pitcherplant      


    northern purple pitcherplant   northern purple pitcherplant  


    northern purple pitcherplant   northern purple pitcherplant  
    northern purple pitcherplant   northern purple pitcherplant  
    northern purple pitcherplant   northern purple pitcherplant  



  Purple Pitcher Plant
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Purple Pitcher Plant  

Sarracenia purpurea




Visitor Videos

Share your video of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  Wild Carnivorous Plants - Red Sarracenia purpurea

May 1, 2018

First episode of "Wild Carnivorous plants", feat. some deep red/purple colored Sarracenia purpurea. There were many at this location, easily 100's one you look out at the sphagnum "field" past the board walk.




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.






Created: 4/19/2020

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © All rights reserved.