Carnivorous Plants of the North

There are many different varieties of carnivorous plants found throughout the world. Carnivorous plants are typically found in the warmer, southern regions, but a handful of these plants can be found growing in northern areas of the United States. While a carnivorous plant's primary source of prey is usually insects, some species are capable of digesting very small animals as well.

Purple Pitcher Plant

There are many different varieties of the pitcher plant, and the purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is most tolerant of colder weather and is the easiest type to grow. This plant can be found all along the east coast of the United States and up into southeastern Canada. Although this carnivorous plant's primary source of food is insects, the purple pitcher plants also consumes mites, spiders and small frogs, according to the website Prey is attracted by the plant's colorful reddish-purple leaves, as well as nectar in the cone of the plant. Once an animal descends into the pitcher-shaped leaves, it is trapped by small hairs and then absorbed by the plant's digestive glands.This plant requires moist soil at all times and does best in full sun. This plant is hardy to USDA planting zone 3 to 9.

Cobra Lily

The cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica) is found in western Oregon and northwestern California. This plant is aptly named for its snake-like form, which rises and twists slightly, as well as its protruding fork-tongued leaf. Insects are attracted by the smell of nectar, which lures them into the top of the pitcher. The inside of the cobra lily contains many bright areas that appear to be exits. As insects fly into the false exits, they fall down into the neck of the plant, where they are trapped by downward pointing hairs and consumed by digestive enzymes at the base of the plant, according to the Bug Biting Plants website. The cobra lily grows well in moist soil and can tolerate both dim and bright light. In the winter, soil should be kept drier. This plant is hardy in USDA planting zones 7 to 10.


The sundew (Drosera) is named for the scented dew-like drops on the ends of the plant's tentacles. These gel-like drops shine in the sun and attract insects, which are then trapped upon contact by this sticky substance, according to the website Carnivorous Plants. Small tentacles wrap around the prey, which is eventually dissolved by digestive juices. There are many varieties of sundew, and three types, including the three-leaved, the spatulate-leaved and the round-leaved sundew are found in Massachusetts, according to the Mass Nature website. Sundew grows well in partial shade with moist, well-drained soil. Avoid over-watering, as this can cause to roots to rot. Depending on the variety, sundew is hardy in USDA planting zones 5 to 10.

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