The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: My plant is flowering! What do I do?

Sarracenia flava
Sarracenia flava
A: First, take satisfaction in the fact you successfully grew a challenging plant to flowering size. Now you can attempt to fertilize the plant. Many carnivorous plants can be easily fertilized. The sexual organs in the genera Drosera, Byblis, Drosophyllum, and Dionaea are easily identified. Consult a beginning botany textbook and identify the stigma and anthers. Take pollen from the anthers and gently dab it on the stigma. Many carnivorous plants can be "selfed." This means transferring a flower's own pollen to its stigma.

The floral structures of Sarracenia and Darlingtonia are a little peculiar. Look at the picture of Sarracenia flava to the right (one drooping yellow petal has been removed for clarity). The cluster of dangling yellow-orange anthers is obvious enough. You can see the pollen collecting below in the big, inverted umbrella like structure. That big umbrella structure is a huge, modified style (female stuff). The receptive stigmatic surface is that little hook that points downward, on the modified style. If you are still confused, make sure you click the Sarracenia flava flower for a closer look. To pollinate this plant, you must transfer the pollen to the stigmatic surface.


Pinguicula sex bits
Pinguicula sex bits
Somewhat similar in floral structure are the flowers of Darlingtonia. To the right you can see a partially de-petalled Darlingtonia flower. I have indicated the anthers with an "A" and the receptive stigmatic surfaces with a "B". You have to click on the thumbnail to see the letters. You want to apply pollen to the five tips of the stigmatic surface.

Venus flytraps (Dionaea) can be selfed although they do not always produce seed. Furthermore, seed production often tires the plant noticeably. (I break off flower stalks whenever they appear.) Read the Venus flytrap section of the FAQ for more chiding information about why you should not let your Venus flytraps flower.

The floral structures of Pinguicula, Utricularia, and Genlisea are all very similar, which is why they are in the same plant family, Lentibulariaceae. At the right is an image of the sex organs of Pinguicula moranensis. To reveal them to your gaze, I brashly tore off the delicate underpetals in a fit of passion, then lunged forward with my camera gear while the exposed floral structures quivered in delight. The front of the flower is at the top. Notice the two white curving stamens tipped with globs of yellow pollen? The pollen is nearly hidden under the apron-like, magenta stigmatic surface. To self-pollinate this plant, the pollen must be transferred to the stigmatic surface. When manipulating flowers in this family, you may tear apart the petals--they will be discarded anyway--but be easy on the rest of the flower. You can easily damage it and make the flower abort.

Some plants will not produce seed if you self-pollinate them---some Drosera and Byblis are this way. Nepenthes plants are either male or female, and so cannot be selfed. In these cases, you must obtain pollen from another plant if you desire seed.

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; personal observations.

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Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005