Gulf Purple Pitcherplant

(Sarracenia rosea)



Sarracenia rosea is a species of pitcher plant in the genus Sarracenia and is sometimes known as Burk's southern pitcher plant. Sarracenia rosea was first identified by the American botanist Edgar T. Wherry as a "mutant" form of S. purpurea in 1933 based on specimens collected by Frank Morton Jones in 1910 near Theodore, Alabama and Wherry's own collections in 1932, likely also from southern Alabama. These plants differed from S. purpurea in the rose-pink petals and nearly white style (S. purpurea has deep maroon petals and the style is typically green). Wherry sent specimens to Louis Burk, a Philadelphia horticulturalist, who confirmed Wherry's field observations in greenhouse-grown plants. Wherry followed this revelation and suggested naming the variety in honor of Burk, but it remained unpublished. Based on the morphological differences from the southern subspecies, S. purpurea subsp. venosa, and the geographic isolation of the populations with pink petals along the Gulf Coast, the American botanist Donald E. Schnell formally described this taxon in a 1993 issue of Rhodora, the journal of the New England Botanical Club. Schnell decided to place this taxon at the rank of variety below subsp. venosa as S. purpurea var. burkii, honoring Louis Burk as Wherry had suggested 60 years earlier. In 1999, however, botanists Robert Naczi, then a professor of biology at Northern Kentucky University, and Frederick and Roberta Case elevated the variety to species rank, naming it Sarracenia rosea. They compiled morphological data from specimens of S. purpurea and S. rosea and found significant differences in scape height, petal size, pitcher "lip" thickness, and pitcher leaf morphology. All of this evidence, combined with the allopatric distribution that does not overlap with S. purpurea, lead the authors to determine the Gulf Coast populations with pink petals are worthy of recognition at species rank. They chose to assign a new epithet, rosea, to the species rather than utilize the varietal epithet burkii as allowed under article 11.2 of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature to avoid confusion and express the color of the flowers in the species epithet.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
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