Herbs & Plants

Sarracenia purpurea

Botanical Name : Sarracenia purpurea
Family: Sarraceniaceae
Genus:    Sarracenia
Species: S. purpurea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Ericales

Synonyms: Sarazina Gibbosa. Sarracenie. Eve’s Cups. Fly-catcher. Fly-trap. Huntsman’s Cup. Purple Side-saddle Flower. Side-saddle Plant. Water-cup. Nepenthes distillatoria.

Common Names:Pitcher Plant, Purple pitcher plant, Northern pitcher plant, or Side-saddle flower,

Habitat: Sarracenia purpurea is native to Eastern N. America – Labrador, south to Kentucky, Iowa and Florida. Naturalized in C. Ireland.It grows in Sphagnum bogs and peaty barrens.

Its range includes almost the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, the Great Lakes, and south eastern Canada, making it the most common and broadly distributed pitcher plant, as well as the only member of the genus that inhabits cold temperate climates. The species is the floral emblem of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The species was introduced into bogs in parts of Ireland, where it has proliferated.

Sarracenia purpurea, a strange,evergreen perennial plant growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in),  the leaves of which form cups, often richly coloured, which become filled with water and small insects, and are covered by a lid in hot weather, due to the contraction of the fibres of the modified leaf-stalk. Water is sometimes present before opening. The insects gradually form a decaying mass, which emits a strong odour and probably serves as a fertilizer.
There appears to be little, if any, difference botanically between the American Sarracenia and the Nepenthes distillatoria of Ceylon, the East Indies and China. For lack of other definite information it may be concluded from the name that the latter is also used medicinally. (Nepenthe, from the Greek ‘not’ and ‘grief.’) In antiquity a magic potion, Nepenthe, is mentioned by Greek and Roman poets. It was said to cause forgetfulness of sorrows and misfortunes.

Cultivation: The plant requires a moist, well-drained situation, and being a creeping plant needs trellis-work for support. The flowers are insignificant, with five petals shaped like a violin.

Propagation :
Seed – we have no information for this species but would suggest sowing the seed in light shade in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if possible otherwise in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for their first winter outdoors. Division might be possible.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Root, leaves.

Constituents: An alkaloid, Sarracenine resin, a yellow colouring principle (probably sarracenic acid) and extractive. ‘Sarracenine is white, soluble in alcohol and ether, combines with acids to form salts, and with sulphuric acid forms handsome needles which are bitter, and communicate this taste to its members.’

Tonic, laxative, stomachic, diuretic. Used in the southern United States in dyspepsia. The drug was unknown in Europe until a few years ago, when Mr. Herbert Miles introduced it as a specific for smallpox, as used by the North American Indians with great success, saving life and even the unsightly pitting. Some homoeopaths confirm the value of the remedy, but allopaths do not appear to have been successful in its use, either in America, England or France.

Its principal value appears to be in torpid liver, stomach, kidney and uterus complaints.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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