The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: What is all this about "anthocyanin-free plants"?

A: Ah, you must have been talking to fans of Darlingtonia or Sarracenia!

The red pigmentation in many carnivorous plants is due to the pigment called anthocyanin. Every now and then, a mutant form of a carnivorous plant develops which lacks anthocyanin. These plants have an electric green look to them. They are referred to as being "anthocyanin-free," or informally "antho-free."

Anthocyanin-free clones of most Darlingtonia and Sarracenia species have been discovered. Two have been given Latin names (S. purpurea subsp. purpurea f. heterophylla, S. rosea f. luteola), and two have been given cultivar names (Darlingtonia californica 'Othello', and S. psittacina 'Green Rosette').

Such plants are considered extremely collectable because they are so rare, with unfortunate consequences. For example, until recently an anthocyanin-free form of Sarracenia jonesii existed in the wild, but poachers collected every plant so it no longer occurs in the wild. Pig-faced poachers. Having learned from this lesson, those field workers who discover such rarities are usually very quiet about where the plants came from, and even do not like to disclose the information to trustworthy people. Can you blame them?

A few words regarding Darlingtonia californica 'Othello'. I found a population of this plant---in fact the only population---and by working with the property owners, not only has the site (probably) been protected, but seed has been legally collected and distributed among carnivorous plant collectors two separate times. However, I don't regularly have seed of this plant because it is difficult to generate. So don't ask. Check the carnivorous plant seedbanks. I last distributed seed in the autumn of 2006.

There are anthocyanin-free individuals of other carnivorous plants. I believe that the cultivar Utricularia 'Lavinia Whateley' and the Dionaea 'Justina Davis' may be anthocyanin-free.

Page citations: Meyers-Rice, B.A. 1997, Schnell, D.E. 2002a; personal observations; reader contributions.

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018