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Photo by Ayinde Listhrop

Plant of the Week: Yellow pitcher plant

By Manuel Alarcon | June 26, 2018

Sarracenia flava, also known as yellow pitcher plant, is a perennial native to the southeastern United States. In the wild, its range stretches from Virginia to Florida, sweeping west to Mobile Bay, Alabama. It can grow from one and a half feet to three feet tall and can spread from one and a half to three feet. S. flava prefers acidic conditions and reproduces mostly through budding along the rhizome of the plant. It blooms from April to May, and the pitchers die back towards the winter. This is the first carnivorous plant on the High Line and carries unique characteristics.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop.Ayinde Listhrop

S. flava acquires its nutrition by luring an unlucky insect into the pitcher where a vat of digestive fluids awaits. These pitchers are modified leaves and mimic flowers to fool insects into entering. At the top of the pitcher is a flat lid to help prevent rain from entering the pitcher. This lid also acts as a landing pad for flying insects, which are lured into the pitcher through attractive colors and nectar. The slippery insides of the pitchers and their downward-pointing hairs prevent the struggling insect from climbing out. Literature that shows that the paralyzing agent coniine is found in the digestive fluids, further dooming the insect.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop.Ayinde Listhrop

Planting tip:

Sarracenia flava grows best in consistently moist, well-drained soils of a bog garden in full sun. They can be grown in plastic containers, but beware that potting soil and fertilizer may kill the plant. The traditional mixture of soil is a 2:1 ratio of sphagnum peat moss mixed with lime-free horticultural sand or perlite. It does well in USDA Zones 6 through 8.

Where to find this plant:

Sarracenia flava can be seen in the bog at the Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck between 14th and 15th Streets.

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects.

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TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.