Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Provincial Post - Newfoundland and Labrador

Purple Pitcher Plant
Photo from Link
 Purple Pitcher Plant

The North American Pitcher plant or Sarracenia purpurea is a cool plant being it is carnivorous. At 30 cm ( 12 inches) long, it is not a big plant. The pitchers are at the base of the plant and the flower stem grows up through the middle. 

Each pitcher is actually called a hood because the lid does not cover like a flap as for other pitcher plants. Instead the hood curls in on the sides and traps insects with its tiny hairs and digestive fluid. The hoods are beautifully veined. Each pitcher is filled with a fluid that contains digestive enzymes produced by the plant. A new pitcher relies on most of its nutrients from trapped insects like flies and spiders. By the second year of its life digestion is aided by organisms that actually live in the pitchers. These organisms or commensals include the mosquito Wyeomyia smithii and the midge Metriocnemus knabi (apparently very big names in the pitcher plant world). The carnivorous larvae of these two insects do not attack each other, however the midge will attack other mosquitos species !

Sarracenia plants live about 2 years unless damaged by fire or extreme cold. They are found  throughout the eastern seaboard of Canada and the United States.  They grow in marshland and  bogs and enjoy lots of sunshine. The pitcher plant is named after Dr. Michel Sarrasin de L’Étang (1659-1734), Canada’s first professional botanist.



Black Spruce

Photo from Flickr
Also known as the Bog Spruce (Picea mariana), the Black Spruce is widespread throughout North America's boreal region. It is found on soils with little nutritive value such as bogs and swamps. The Black spruce is a small to medium size evergreen tree that grows to an average height of 7 m to 15 m (20 - 40 feet). It is often confused with the white or red spruce but can be identified by its quadrate, dark green needles, small cones and rigid, brittle cone scales.
In the past, healing salves were made from the gum, antiscorbutic and diuretic beverages from twigs and needles, and ropes from the roots. The Black Spruce is used for Christmas trees but its main use is for pulpwood because of its long wood fibres.






Where the heck is Newfoundland and Labrador ?
Far right in red
 courtesy::http://www.map-of-canada.org/about.htm

10 comments:

  1. oooo! Carnivorous plants are cool. It is such a clever adaption that allows them to live in poor conditions. I blogged about our Sundew or drosera which has sticky 'hands' which the bugs stick to and it curls around them. It is tiny though compared to pitcher plants. (Check post: Bushfire regrowth)

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  2. I think pitcher plants are so interesting, at least I am not a fly or spider. They might think as I do. Nature has so many amazing and unique tricks up her sleeve. I like to go to the botanical gardens to see all the carnivorous plants. I wonder what they get fed, since the gardens are always insect free? I am going to ask next time.

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  3. Dear Patty, I must confess that I have never warmed to carniverous plants...all those half digested creepy crawlies lurking deep inside them. No, not for me!!

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  4. Thank you all for your comments. I have never seen a pitcher plant, one day I am sure.

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  5. I had a Sarracenia 2-3 years ago. It was doing fine till my dogs decided that it tasted good.

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  6. I didnt know that pitcher plants are also found in temperate countries, that means they are able to adapt in any condition to survive. I love them just for decoration because they look so unique and exotic but not the fact that they are carnivorous..

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  7. Thank goodness pitcher plants aren't interested in anything bigger than bugs! We tend to think of plants as benign-sure some have defense mechanisms, but it would be a whole new world, if they were to go on the offense and we had to fear for the return of the family cat out for a stroll in the garden.
    Seriously, interesting post! Have a great weekend!

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  8. I like the colors that Sarracenias ger. They would have come handy to have back in my country to deal with the bugs, but we never could have any carnivorous plant because none can last in that heat.

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  9. I once heard a little fly in distress as it flew into one of those never to fly back out again. I'm always amazed by these plants though they don't like the heat in the house - I'm always having to mist them.

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  10. Pitcher plants are native here in Malaysia. I think they are beautiful and the fact that they trap and devour insects makes them a good for eco-pest control.

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