A carnivorous herbaceous plant is thriving in Kisatchie National Forest.
“The first thing I noticed about the (yellow pitcher plant) is the sheer beauty of it,” said Jim Caldwell, Kisatchie National Forest Public Affairs, Recreation, Heritage and Staff Officer. “The pitcher plant is so interesting, the way it is shaped and its coloration.
“And the fact that it eats insects is truly interesting.”
The yellow pitcher plant is native to southern and eastern states of the United States, including Louisiana, Florida and Virginia.
This meat eater grows in nutrient-deficient bogs. Its leaves form trumpets which trap flying insects then slowly devour them.
Carnivorous plants use insects to get some or most of their nutrients.
Like other pitchers, the yellow pitcher plant contains sugars to lure insects in. These sugars are laced with an alkaloid (coniine) that intoxicates the prey, making it difficult for them to escape.
Despite being insectivorous, the yellow pitcher plant is also pollinated by insects.
Growing 40-100 centimeters tall, the yellow pitcher plant blooms in summer with a flower up to five centimeters in diameter. “The pitcher plant will have a flower on it in the early summer,” Caldwell said. “(Its flower) hangs down like a bell.”
Pitcher plants survive all year long, but they do die back in the winter with just the roots living below the surface. They re-emerge in the spring.
“Pitcher plants are beautiful at different times in the year,” Caldwell said. “This time of year they are golden yellow-green. You can see the purple veins running through the plant and it is absolutely beautiful.
“Then the flowers come on. And in the fall, the plants will turn yellow-gold, brown-bronze.”