Fun facts about Pinguicula plants

Is a rock garden your cup of tea? If it is, then you’re a prime candidate for growing Pinguicula plants. These are carnivorous plants more popularly known by their common name butterworts. There are approximately 80 species of Pinguicula, but only about nine are native to North America. The North American butterworts are fascinating species.

These temperate North American species (which are listed below) grow to a height of between 12 cm and 20 cm and have a dormant period occurring in winter during which they form hibernacula or tight buds comprised of leaves with scale-like features. The temperate butterworts grow rosette leaves and flower from spring to summer with spectacular blooms of white, yellow or purple.

The rosette leaves of Pinguicula carnivorous plants used to attract and trap insects conspicuously glisten, thus giving them the common name butterworts. The majority of these plants are perennials with stemless rosettes. Remarkably, with the shift of the seasons, many butterworts undergo a cycle of changing between carnivorous and non-carnivorous rosette leaves. This unique characteristic leads to another classification of Pinguicula into two ecological groups. First is the heterophyllous species, which exhibit rosette growth different in size or shape depending on the season. And second are the homophyllous butterworts, which have uniform leaf growth.

The nine Pinguicula species in the USA and Canada include: P. vulgaris, P. caerulea
P. ionantha, P. lutea, P. macroceras, P. planifolia, P. villosa, P. primulifora and P. pumila. P. Villosa is a tiny arctic butterworst endemic to Alaska and northern Canada. Most of the North American butterworts could be found in the Southeastern USA. The Great Lakes area, meanwhile, is the stronghold for P. vulgaris, which characteristically occurs farther north than most of its congenerics.

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