Florida’s Carnivorous Plants

In some parts of the county, searching for autumn-leaves color is not only a regional pastime but a tourist experience. Spring wildflowers are another large attraction, though I don’t hear as much about timing and destinations as I do for fall color.

In the Florida Panhandle, we have a scenic byway (State Route 65) that runs north and south through Liberty County (where I’ve set my conjure and crime Florida Folk Magic Series) that’s a beautiful road that becomes a bit congested in the spring as the cameras come out to “capture” wildflowers. Florida’s carnivorous pitchers, when found en masse, are referred to as “pitcher plant prairies.”

White-topped Pitcher Plant – photo by chapstickaddict on Flickr

According to Missouri Botanical Garden, “Sarracenia leucophylla, commonly called white-topped pitcher plant or white trumpet, is native to mucky soils of sandy bogs and pine savannas in coastal plain areas from south western Georgia, southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle. This is a stemless herbaceous perennial that grows in full sun.”

It’s also a carnivorous plant. When I lived in Florida, I used to tell out-of-state visitors that these flowers were worse than alligators and could strike like a snake and consume a 200-pound man in a nanosecond. They normally eat insects, considering people off limits most of the time. Goodness knows how many of my exaggerations got ferried back to the rest of the country!

Blazing Star – Route 65 Tour Guide photo.

You can see pitchers during April and May, and to a lesser extent in the fall. Don’t pick any of them: you might end up in jail. In addition to pitchers, you’ll find a spectacular display of color from the False foxglove, Rayless goldenrod, Hairy chaffhead, Bristleleaf chaffhead, Flattop goldenrod, Narrowleaf Sunflower, Blazing star, and White rosegentian.

If you live in Florida or are traveling to West Florida during the blooming season, you’ll find this tour guide to be a handy reference.