Pitcher plants, nature’s most unassuming carnivore, are of a special interest to UNC Asheville senior Leila Beikmohamadi. As a part of her undergraduate research, Beikmohamadi spent her summer investigating the hybridization of these fascinating plants.
Pitcher plants are large, tube-like plants that feature deadly solution of amino acids, peptides, phosphates, at the bottom of their prey-trapping cavity, which the plant uses to digest small insects and organisms. Beikmohamadi’s research focused mainly on the North Carolina native purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea var. montana) and the endangered mountain sweet pitcher plant (S. jonesii).
Even though the two plants have entirely different ways of maintaining nutrients, Beikmohamadi said, they’re able to hybridize despite their differences. She explained, “it was really interesting that even though those two species have completely different ways to get nutrients from trapped prey in different ways they still produce viable offspring/hybrids. I remember being really interested in how these hybrids compare to the parent species and if there is a consequence to hybridization between these two plants.”
Originally published June 20th, 2017.