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Pitcher Plants

  • Order: Nepenthales
  • Family: Sarrceniaceae
  • Genus: Sarracenia
  • Species: purpurea
Fun Fact

Large pitcher plants can trap small amphibians or rodents. 

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About Pitcher Plants

Pitcher plants are shaped like vases, or pitchers, and resemble flowers in look and smell. Pitcher plants color, nectar and scent lure in and trap insects. Hairs and digestive acids inside the plant ensure insects cannot escape, becoming a meal for the pitcher plant. Pitcher plants slowly break down the insect and absorb essential nutrients for survival. Pitcher plants rely on insects for added nutrients because the soil alone doesn’t provide enough to keep the plants healthy. 

Pitcher plants vary in size, shape, color and location depending on the species, age, and amount of light they receive. Despite their differences, they are all perennials which means that the top portion of the plant dies each winter but will regrow in the spring from the same, preexisting roots.

Pitcher Plants in the Wild


Habitats vary depending on whether it is an American or Tropical pitcher plant. American pitcher plants grow in nutrient-poor soils and wetlands like swamps, bogs, marshes and fens. Tropical pitcher plants also commonly grow near bodies of water including lake edges, river banks and springs.


Pitcher plants grow in the wetlands of southern Canada and the United States as well as in the tropical areas of northern Australia, Southeast Asia, southern China, India and Madagascar.


Pitcher plants are carnivorous and commonly eat ants, flies, wasps, beetles, slugs and snails. Large pitcher plants may even eat small frogs, rodents, or lizards.

Population Status

While some species of pitcher plants have been thriving, multiple species are on the verge of extinction. Invasive species, herbicides and habitat destruction by humans are a few of the causes of the pitcher plant decline.