CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii

Johnny Randall

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii

Common Names: 
Mountain sweet pitcher-plant, sweet pitcherplant
(Wherry) Wherry
Growth Habit: 
Subshrub, Forb/herb
CPC Number: 


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Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesiienlarge
Photographer: Johnny Randall
Image Owner: Johnny Randall

Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii is Fully Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Johnny Randall contributed to this Plant Profile.
The initial writing of this profile was funded by the U.S. Forest Service

Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii

Of the 16 historical populations of Mountain Sweet Pitcher-plant, only 10 surviving today. This southern Appalachian endemic continues to face danger from development and the changes it brings to natural communities. Many of the vanished populations were lost as a result of the destruction of their bogs due to changes in hydrology. The channelization of streams, which often precedes development or the conversion of forested land to agriculture, caused the bogs that once supported pitcherplant populations to dry out.

This species produces showy maroon flowers from April to June and exhibits green pitchers throughout the growing season. Reproduction occurs by seed and fragmentation of rhizomes (Massey et al. 1983; Wood 1960).

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  North Carolina
South Carolina
State Range of  Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii
  Mountain bogs and streamsides (USFWS 1990a)

  The Blue Ridge Mountains of North and South Carolina (USFWS 1990a)

Number Left
  There are 10 populations remaining, all within North and South Carolina. Four of these populations are in the river drainage of the French Broad River in Henderson County and Transylvania County, NC. Five are in the Saluda River drainage in Greenville County, SC. The last is in the Enoree River drainage, also in Greenville County, SC. (USFWS 1990a)


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  North Carolina S1 E-SC 4/21/1992  
  South Carolina S1 11/6/1991  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Sarracenia jonesii feeds on and is fed upon by insects. Insects are lured by the sweet smelling nectar produced by the plants and enter the tubular pitchers. Once inside, they become trapped by downward pointing hairs. They fall into the liquid in the bottom of the pitcher where they decompose. It is thought that the minerals from the decomposed insects help to make up for the low nutrient levels of pitcher plant habitat. Turnabout is fair play and a number of moths eat the seeds, rhizomes, and leaves of the pitcher-plants (Wood 1960). Other insects make use of the pitchers as habitat and live inside (Wood 1960).

  • Of the 10 extant populations of Sarracenia jonesii, only two are on public land and of those only one is well protected. The remaining eight are on private land and are especially threatened by land use change and succession (USFWS 1990a).
• Hydrological alteration has been and continues to be a major threat that goes along with development and the conversion of forest to agricultural land.
• Unrestricted grazing of livestock also poses a threat.
• Due to the small number of populations and the small size of these populations, collection of plants and seeds for the nursery trade can have a major impact on the survival of unprotected populations.
• The encroachment of woody plants has the effect of reducing light levels in the bogs and drawing down water tables. Since some of the sites are not managed, this poses a threat as well.

Current Research Summary
  Benjamin and Sutter (1993) studied populations of Sarracenia jonesii and recommended management strategies. Their work includes population demographics, the effect of woody plant removal, and the comparison of water and nutrient levels within the bogs both among and apart from pitcher plant populations. They have observed increases in the pitcher and flower number following woody plant removal. Nutrient levels do not vary between bog sites with and without pitcher-plants, but water levels do.

Current Management Summary
  Management of Sarracenia jonesii is ongoing at a mostly experimental level. This research (described above in the Current Research Summary) will inform management decisions. In addition to on site management, seeds have been collected and given to NCBG with the expectation that at some point outplanting propagated specimens will occur into suitable habitat. Additionally, plants have been rescued from a badly degraded site owned by a hostile landowner. These specimens were taken to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for propagation (Benjamin and Sutter 1993).

Research Management Needs
  It is refreshing to see that management decisions will be based on sound research in the case of Sarracenia jonesii However, it will be important to work with private landowners to increase the security of the remaining sites and to insure that management activities can occur.

Monitoring Efforts
  Not Available

Ex Situ Needs
  Needs are currently being met at the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. However, it is worth noting that there is some concern that due to the small number of extant populations and small population sizes care be taken to preserve all of the genetic variation present (USFWS 1990a).


Books (Single Authors)

Massey, J.R.; Otte, D.K.S.; Atkinson, T.A.; Whetstone, R.D. 1983. An Atlas and Illustrated Guide to the Threatened and Endangered Vascular Plants of the Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. Asheville, NC: Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 218p.

Ward, D.B. 1979. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida Volume 5: Plants. Gainseville, FL: University Presses of Florida.

Electronic Sources

(2002). NC-ES Plant profiles. [Web pages] North Carolina Ecological Services--U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services--Southeast Region 4. http://nc-es.fws.gov/plant/plant.html. Accessed: 2002.

USFWS. (1990). Endangered and Threatened Species Accounts. [Web page] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species. http://ecos.fws.gov/servlet/TESSSpeciesQuery. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Benjamin, S.; Sutter, R. 1993. Sarracenia jonesii Wherry (Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant). Natural Areas Journal. 13, 2: 124-129.

Godt, M.J.W.; Hamrick, J.L. 1996. Genetic structure of two endangered pitcher plants, Sarracenia jonesii and Sarracenia oreophila (Sarraceniaceae). American Journal of Botany. 83, 8: 1016-1023.

Godt, M.J.W.; Hamrick, J.L. 1998. Allozyme diversity in the endangered pitcher plant Sarracenia rubra ssp. alabamensis (Sarraceniaceae) and its close relative S. rubra ssp. rubra. American Journal of Botany. 85, 6: 802-810.

Murphy, P.B.; Boyd, R.S. 1999. Population Status and Habitat Characterization of the Endangered Plant, Sarracenia rubra subspecies alabamensis. Castanea : the journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club. 64, 2: 101.

Nation, F. 2001. Pitcher Plants in Alabama. Alabama’s TREASURED Forests. 28-29.

Schnell, D.E. 1982. Effects of simultaneous draining and brush cutting on a SarraceniaL. population in a southeastern North Carolina pocosin. Castanea. 47: 248 - 260.

USFWS. 1981. Service comments on proposals to amend appendices. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 6, 1: 8.

USFWS. 1988. Determination of endangered status for Sarracenia rubra ssp jonesii (Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant). Federal Register. 53, 190: 38470-38474.

USFWS. 1988. Final Listing Rules. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 13, 9-10: 4.

USFWS. 1988. Loss of Wetlands Threatens Four Plants. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 13, 3: 3-5.

USFWS. 1992. Regional News--Regions 2 & 4. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 17, 9-11: 9, 13-15.

Wood, C. 1960. The genera of Sarraceniaceae and Droseraceae in the Southeastern United States. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. XLI: 152-163.


1995. 1995 Annual report on taxa in the national collection for North Carolina Botanical Garden. Annual report to the Center for Plant Conservation. p.1.

USFWS. 1990. Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. p.39.

  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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