Above, the southern form of S. purpurea, subspecies venosa.
This variety was previously called S. purpurea subspecies venosa variety burkii, by Wherry in honor of a horticulturist, Louis Burk, who was growing them. (D. Schnell later gave a more formal description.)These are native primarily to Alabama. The pitcher lip and overall pitcher is fatter. The flower typically has pink petals and white to pale green female parts (stigma, style, ovary).
Most of the native habitats of this plant have been destroyed by human activity.
The exact number of races, varieties of S. purpurea is a matter of some debate. We, at Botanique, believe the S. purpurea complex to be one, very adaptable, variable species. As described by the famous carnivorous plant scientist and author Donald Schnell, we concur that there are at least two major groups. The northern group is known as S. purpurea subspecies purpurea, while the southern types are named S. purpurea subspecies venosa. Others believe the southernmost type to be a separate species "S. rosea". In taxonomic circles, the philosophy/position difference is commonly known as "lumpers vs. splitters". Lumpers focus on the uniting characteristics while splitters focus on differences.
If you wish to grow Purple Pitcher Plants, we find that the northern types do not tolerate the heat and fungal pathogens in hot summer areas, typically south of Washington D.C. Conversely, the southern types do not tolerate a U.S.D.A. zone 3 climate as well as the northern plants. For us (zone 6) the southern type is hardier, but the northern types gave rise to the "Black-red" cultivars which Botanique introduced back in 1982 (image bottom, left). We grow mostly southern plants, but sometimes offer mid-Atlantic types. Botanique is working on a number of cultivars, including a giant southern type with rich red veins.
The black-red selections of S. purpurea, bred by Botanique since 1977 and introduced in 1982, vary from dark red to almost black. Their heritage is a mix of northern and southern plants, with the darkest offspring kept to continue breeding and selection. Sarracenia purpurea naturally vary in color from entirely pale green to completely dark maroon-black. In nature, most Sarracenia have tremendous variation in color, one reason why patents should not be granted to people or companies which seek plant patents of species based solely on color.
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