White Top Pitcher Plant, Beach Botany


A short while ago I was visiting Box Tower Gardens when I spotted a patch of just a few White Top Pitcher Plants, Sarracenia leucophylla, growing in a heavy grassy area. Leucophylla is a perennial insectivorous herb about 3’ in height that traps insects for nitrogen. The plants grow from a buried rhizome that continuously produces clusters of erect linear sword shaped leaves that are formed into hollow tubes. When mature, lower parts of the tube are green. Upper parts are white with ornamental reddish patterns. The top of the tube is topped by an erect, rounded, wavy edged hood that prevents rain water from entering the tube.

The plant has an asexual flower with a corolla of five large reddish brown petals. At the center of the corolla are numerous stamens with pollen bearing anthers of pollen that surround an umbrella shaped female stigma to catch pollen. The five petals help gather pollen by curving around the stigma. Flowers are held up by an erect flower stem where the top bends over and the flowers hang downward. Blooming occurs in the Spring. A flower was not seen in the patch I saw.

The habitats of Leucophylla is in the nitrogen lacking wet bogs and acid swamps in the central and western panhandle. Family is Sarraceniaceae, (Pitcher Plant Family).  There are eleven species in the Genus Sarracenia. All are native and endemic to Florida.