Focused on Mississippi: Pitcher Plants

Focused on Mississippi

STONE COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – This was not my usually way home from the coast, but I had some time to kill, so I took Highway 15 north out of Biloxi instead up Highway 65 to bypass the Gulfport traffic. I found a bunch of different pine trees, a rather large stand of long-leaf pines. Under the pines were acres and acres of pitcher plants.

They are carnivorous plants. In other words, they eat bugs. Insects are attracted by some kind of scent bait they emit and climb down inside. The little hairs inside are slanted down, so it’s easy for the bugs to slip in. But when they try turn around to climb back out, they’re trapped against those little membranes that so effortlessly let them in.

In that same field are all kinds of wild flowers that attract all kinds of bugs. Bees mostly, and this time of year, migrating butterflies. People think of wildflowers being an exclusive spring commodity. Here in Mississippi, our autumn wildflowers are every bit as extensive.

But back to the pitcher plants, I have tried to tame some planting them out in the yard. Be aware before you get a shovel and start digging out in the wild. Many varieties of pitcher plants are endangered. Other varieties you can’t get rid of with a flame thrower.

Fertilizer will kill them. They grow in the wild in South Mississippi. They will grow mid-state. And they thrive in poor soil, because they eat bugs.

The Mississippi Native Plant Society will host a plant swap on Saturday, September 26, 2020, at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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