Sarracenia: characteristics, habitat and species

Between carnivorous plants we also find those belonging to the genus Sarracenia, able to capture their prey by attracting them in diabolical ways, for example by showing off bright colors or through the "scent" of their nectar. Let's find out what characteristics they have and how they behave, where they live and how they live.

Sarracenia: characteristics

Belonging to Sarraceniaceae family, these plants are native to America and usually live in areas with swampy soils and temperate climates. To obtain food, the Sarracenia use particular mechanisms that require the presence of ascidians of a different shape to the Nephenthes and the Chefalotus. That of the Serracenia has the shape of a cone which, depending on the species we are studying, can be elongated, or pressed to the ground, or even smaller in size. Ascis usually also has very characteristic colors, in this case it can be light green but also tending to red.

Whether large or small these plants, and can measure up to one meter, they are herbaceous and perennial have developed rhizomes and tubular leaves that form rosettes at the base of the plant. It is precisely the leaves that act as a funnel and trap attracted insects from nectar and colors. Also in the leaves we also find the enzymes suitable for digesting prey

Sarracenia: how they eat

The capture and capture mechanism is curious digestion of Sarracenia, let's go see it better. As we have already said, the part of the plant that traps insects is a vertical tube called ascidium. At the top it is covered by an operculum while in its front it has a peristome. To better understand how it works, let's go inside the ascidium which can be formed by 3 or 5 zones, depending on the species. The first is theoperculum, the second is the peristome, zones 3 and 4, unified in some species, and 5, not always present, are zones that contain specialized parts for the capture of preys and digestion.

Ascidia are usually filled with water. Once the prey gets inside them, die and decompose thanks to the action of the bacterial microflora that is already inside this trap. Minority is the role of the enzymes secreted by the plant, much less powerful than the acid-fast bacteria.

Sarracenia: habitat

These plants are not very widespread, they are found in rather limited areas and far from our country. Most of the species belonging to the genus live on the southeastern coasts of the United States. S. purpurea manages to reach even further north, towards the Great Lakes region, up to Canada, and it has also been introduced to other countries from other parts of the world where it has naturalized. These are countries not very far from us, such as for example Ireland, Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland, where for over a century it has settled in the Jura alpine massif.

In general the Sarracenie they love humid environments, like many other carnivorous plants, and with a low pH, areas where nitrates are continuously washed away by the water or made unavailable by the low pH value. This can be a problem, so plants have to supplement their "diet" by catching and eating insects.

Sarracenia: species

Among the various species belonging to this genus of carnivorous plants, let's see some. Let's start from S. Alata, very common in southern part of the United States, Texas for example, and in Alabama. This species requires the presence of a particular substrate, to grow, characterized by blond sphagnum peat, with pH between 3 and 4.5, or by quartz sand. It should be watered every day and only through a saucer, filling it with about 2-3 cm of distilled water. Rainwater can also be fine if it is not too polluted, and let's not forget to spray its leaves frequently.

Another interesting species is the Purpurea which, unlike other species of Sarracenia, does not release enzymes to complete the digestion of the catch.

This plant has a stem up to 60 centimeters long, at the bottom of which sprout flowers or globes of dark red color. The ascidia, the traps, are placed in a rosette and up to 30 centimeters high, green streaked with red. When the prey falls into a trap, attracted by the sweet-tasting nectar produced in the cap of the ascidian, they end up drowning in the ascidian itself and decompose to be digested

There Purpurea it is also a species native toNorth America, we also find it in Canada and Europe, where it was later introduced. It is not difficult to cultivate it, theoretically, because it does not need a terrarium or greenhouse, it is important to water it only with distilled water or rain or purified, putting it in the saucer and not pouring it on him from above as we would do with any other plant. When winter arrives, a period of vegetative rest, we must remove the saucer and leave it with a substrate that is always slightly moist

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