Carnivorous Plants Website
Carnivorous Plants in the Wilderness
by Makoto Honda


Carnivorous Plants Story
Picture book for a young audience / Kindle Edition

Makoto Honda

Copyright (c) 2013-2017 by Makoto Honda. All Rights Reserved.


Butterworts  (2)

GENUS Pinguicula

There is another kind of gland which is almost buried on the leaf surface. When a nutritious object, such as an insect, or a tiny piece of meat, is placed on the leaf surface, these glands produce digestive fluids. Often, the prey is completely covered with the fluids and digested. Sometimes, the edge of a leaf curls up slowly if the prey is caught near the leaf margin. This helps hold the digestive fluids in place around the prey. As the digestion progresses, the nutrients from the dissolved insect are quickly taken into the leaf and used for various growth activities of the plant.


The pinkish foliage of a butterwort (Pinguicula planifolia) in Florida, in May.

A dense clustering of rare Pinguicula ionantha plants in May, in the Florida panhandle. Note the light green foliage color and rolled up leaf edges.


These dull-red leaves belong to an imposing, Florida-endemic butterwort, Pinguicula planifolia. This species prefers a very wet environment and an occasional rain easily floods the habitat, completely submersing the plants in the shallow water. In the Florida panhandle, in May.


In early spring, butterworts produce brightly colored flowers at the tip of a slender stem rising from the rosette center. Since butterworts are often covered with surrounding grasses in nature, it is often difficult to find the plants without flowers.    


A yellow-flowered butterwort (Pinguicula lutea) in Florida, in early March.


Attractive purple flowers of a southeastern butterwort (Pinguicula caerulea) blooming in the grassland in Florida, in early March.


Purple flowers of a butterwort (Pinguicula macroceras) in southern Oregon, in April.


A butterwort flower is bilaterally symmetric (that is, the left and right are the same as in a human face). A flower blooms dangling at the tip of a flower stalk (scape). The corolla is divided into two lips, upper and lower. The upper lip is three-lobed and the lower lip two-lobed. As a result, the flower looks like it has five petals. The middle portion forms a corolla tube that ends in a narrow spur. The spur is a nectar container commonly seen in many flowers. A hairy structure located in the corolla tube is called a palate.



Butterwort flowers, clockwise from left-top:  Pinguicula caerulea, Pinguicula planifolia, Pinguicula lutea, and Pinguicula ionantha, all from Florida, in March.


A flowering Pinguicula ionantha plant in Florida, in early March. This species grows only in a very small area in the central Florida panhandle, and is considered endangered. Collecting this plant from the field is prohibited.


A flower of Pinguicula ionantha plant. Note a shallow notch at the tip of each of the five petals, and a strongly protruded yellow palate. A short spur at the end of the corolla tube is also yellow, with brownish veins.


Flowers of Pinguicula macroceras, from northern California, in April.



Carnivorous Plants Story - Copyrighted Material
Copyright (c) 2013 by Makoto Honda. All Rights Reserved.

For a young audience, click here for
"Eaten Alive by Carnivorous Plants" by Kathleen J. Honda & Makoto Honda