Virtual Cabinet of Curiosities
34. Purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), Dr Jonathan Millett
The pitchers of this carnivorous plant are leaves adapted to catch animal prey. Prey are attracted with nectar secreted on the inside of the ‘hood’. Downward pointing hairs cause prey to fall into the pitcher where they are decomposed by a community of microscopic organisms. These particular plants are from a bog in the Peak District National Park. The plants are not native to the UK; their native range is in North America.
I have been studying carnivorous plants for over 15 years. They are a fascinating group of plants because they have a variety of adaptations for the capture of prey, from which they extract nutrients. I study these plants to find out about how plants use nutrients, the impacts of pollution and climate change on ecosystems, and how invasive ‘alien’ species affect ecosystems.