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Pinguicula alpina - Alpine Butterwort

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Lamiales - Family: Lentibulariaceae

Alpine Butterwort

Description

From a rosette of yellow-green sticky leaves that lie flat on the ground like a fallen star, Alpine Butterwort plants produce up to eight upright flower stalks 10 to 15cm tall each bearing a single white flower. The flowers are typically 1.5cm long and each has a two-lobed upper lip and a three-lobed lower lip. The lower lip has bright-yellow markings.

The leaves of Alpine Butterwort are sticky, and when an insect alights on a leaf it becomes trapped on the sticky surface glands. The insect’s struggle to escape stimulates the leaf to curl around the hapless victim and release enzymes that digest it. When only the dry shuck remains, the leaf uncurls ready for the next meal. In this way, butterworts are able to thrive on very poor soil.

Alpine Butterwort, Slovenia

Habitat

This carnivorous plant grows mainly in bogs and damp flushes and generally favours neutral to alkaline soils; however, it is more tolerant of dryish conditions than most other members of the genus.

Distribution

Alpine Butterwort Pinguicula alpina was formerly recorded from one lowland mire site in northern Scotland but has not been seen there since 1919. On mainland Europe and across most of Asia, this insectivorous plant is found in in a few high altitude locations.

The specimens shown on this page were found in Slovenia, where it is also possible to see the closely related Common Butterwort, Pinguicula vulgaris, that occurs in many parts of Britain and Ireland.

Alpine Butterwort, in Slovenia

Blooming times

Alpine Butterwort blooms between June and August, depending on altitude and site exposure.


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