Pinguicula pumila

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Family : Lentibulariaceae

Genus : Pinguicula

Name : Pinguicula pumila

Sub-classification (Casper) : link

Publication : by MICHAUX  in F. Bor.-Amer. 1 (1803) 11

other publications : 

Pinguicula pumila var. typica by Michx. (1803)

Pinguicula pumila var. buswellii by Moldenke (1934)

Pinguicula pumila f. alba by Moldenke (1973)

Pinguicula australis = Pinguicula pumila

Pinguicula buswellii = Pinguicula pumila

Pinguicula floridensis = Pinguicula pumila

Pinguicula violacea = Pinguicula pumila


Perennis. Rhizoma simplex breve radicibus adventitiis filiformibus numerosis. Folia numerosa radicalia rosulata integerrima ovato-oblonga basin versus abrupte angustata subrotundata vel subemarginata margine paulum involuta superne glanduloso-viscosa glandulis sessilibus stipitatisque +/- dense vestita basin versus imprimis secundum nervi mediani pilis longis subulatis (7) 10 - 19 (26) mm longa (3) 5 - 8 (12) mm lata laeteviridis vel obscure-virentia. Hibernacula nulla. Pedicelli (1) 3 - 6 (12) erecti teretes glandulis stipitatis +/- dense obtecti (36) 55 -125 (182) mm alti uniflori. Flores mediocres (8) 12 -18 (20) mm longi (calcari incluso). Calyx bilabiatus obscure-viridis vel fusco-ruber extus glandulis stipitatis dense vestitus; labium superum usque ad basin fere trilobum lobis lineari-oblongis subrotundatis subtruncatis vel subemarginatis 1.5 -2.5 mm longis; labium inferu usque ad dimidium bilobum lobis triangulari-oblongis 1 - 1.5 mm longis. Corolla subisoloba pallide-violacea vel pallide caerulea vel rosea vel albescens raro lutea extus glandulis stipitatis modice densis obtecta lobis obovatis vel subcordatis +/- 0.75 mm late emarginatis aeque longis ac latis. Tubus subcylindricus violaceus vel luteus saepe veis rubro-fuscis (3) 4 - 6 (7) mm longus (2) 3 - 4 (5) mm latus intus pilosus cim palato et cymatio palati. Palatum conicum non exsertum sulpureo-luteum +/- 2 mm longum +/- 0.7 mm latum dense pilosum pilis breviter stipitatis clavate capitatis; cymatium antice pilis stipitatis moruliformiter capitatis rubro-luteis in duabus lineis utrimquesecus cymatii palati pilis irregulariter capitatis. Calcar cylindrico-subulatum acutiusculum vel obtusum fusco-purpureum vel luteum (2) 3 - 5 (7) mm longum cum tubo angulum subvalidum subotusum formans. Stamina 1.5 mm longa; antherae albido-luteae; filamenta albida; pollen (4) 5 - 6 (7) colporatum. Ovarium subglobosum glandulis stipitatis dense obtectum. Stigma bilabiatum violaceo-albidum; labum inferum suborbiculatum superne papillatum inferne pilosum. Capsula subglobosa 4 - 5 mm diametro calyce incluso. Semina scobiformia numerosa fusiformia 0.3 - 0.5 mm longa 0.2 - 0.3 mm lata alveolata.   

Chromosomata 2 n = 22 


Floret XI VII


Pinguicula pumila is the smallest of the butterworts that can be found in the Southeast of the USA. 

What is most amazing is the several color and/or size variants among this species. Flower color ranges from white to light purple :

Here are some known variations (Source : Bob McMorris and catalogue of A.Lowrie) :

- P. pumila yellow throat, white and lite purple flower. 

- P.pumila yellow throat, purple flower

- P. pumila yellow throat, white flower. 

- P. pumila purple throat, purple flower. 

- P. pumila light purple throat, purple flower. 

- P. pumila lilac flower.

- P. pumila dark purple flower

- P. pumila purple throat, rose flower. 


and there is a rare yellow variety (Pinguicula pumila var. buswellii).

The rosettes are most of the time greenish but some plants can also show an impressive red color. 

Localisation / Map: 

Pinguicula pumila can be found along the coastal plain from Central North Carolina to the eastern Louisiana and all along Florida (Tex., La., Ala., NC., Ga., Fla).

(click on the map for better location and relief map)


Pinguicula pumila occurs in various habitats : savannas with sand or with peaty-sand, in the edge of sandy hammocks among grasses.

P. pumila grow in more sandy habitats than the other species from southeast USA under less wet conditions (especially the habitat of P. pumila is hot and dry in summer). 


All carnivorous plants are threaten by drainage of site, degradation of water quality and all human activities.

Introduction in culture :

This species is unfortunately still very rare in culture despite skilled growers that make seeds available worldwide. 


(North hemisphere, France near Paris, in a garden  - see the map -)    

Life cycle : This species, native from Southeastern USA, stay all the time under rosette form. They rise beautiful various flowers from march to april according to temperatures. 

Media: The plants grow in a mix of 1/2 peat and 1/2 non calcareous sand but many others mix seems to work also : 100% live sphagnum, 50/50 peat/perlite, peat mixed with sphagnum moss

Pot : Pinguicula pumila can be grown using the tray method so all kind of pots can be use. I grow mine in a large plastic pot.


Cultivation : Pinguicula pumila is a warm-temperate species. The temperatures ranges from 10 to 30 C. I have noted that this species can stay alive with colder temperature even under 5C but the plant is reduced to a green heart and need a long time to regrow in spring (if possible). It is better and safer to keept the plants in winter around 10 - 15C.

The soil should not be kept wet.

With the same cultural method I cultivate successfully all other Pinguicula species of the Southeastern USA. But P. primuliflora, P. planifolia and P. caerulea prefer more wet condtions than P. lutea, P. pumila and P. ionantha prefering  less wet conditions and more sandy habitats (the habitat of P. pumila is hot and dry in summer). 

A good aeration is also necessary for Pinguicula pumila to avoid a rotting of the plants.

In conclusion, I would say that this is also a good candidate for a terrarium.  

Keep in mind that this species can be short-lived species and try to get seeds as often as you can to reseeding each year.


Here are the growing tips of Bob McMorris, one of the best grower I know for these species (personnal communication with Bob on September 29th 2001) :

"I would suggest 50% peat, 50% sand for P. lutea, P. caerulea and P. pumila (actually P. pumila occurs all the way south into the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, where they grow in pockets of limestone with perharps a bit of sand and decomposed plant matter; so I suspect this species can grow with a bit of vermiculite and less peat. The last three species); P. planifolia, P. primuliflora, and P. ionantha generally grow in very wet areas, with P. primuliflora having been recorded as growing under water along the edges of streams. 

I grow these species with a base of peat and then the upper layer of live Sphagnum. The seeds should be started on peat and then when large enough (perhaps the second season) moved into Sphagnum. The first 3 (P. lutea, P. caerulea and P. pumila) are usually found along side the road in low grasses where they get quite a lot of sun. The ground is usually damp not wet. The latter 3 (P. planifolia, P. primuliflora, and P. ionantha) are usually found in much wetter locations, but still receiving quite a lot of sun. I have grown them on the tray system under lights with success, however they do much better outdoors with full sun."   



Multiplication : Some plants in culture forms seeds.  

 PICTURES: (click to enlarge)


Pinguicula pumila var. areola.

Photo : Dieter Kadereit

- November 2003 - 


Pinguicula pumila var. areola


Photo : Dieter Kadereit

- November 2003 - 

More on Pinguicula pumila var. areola by Dieter Kadereit :

- This variant has been named by Bob McMorris.
- He had distributed some seeds under this name, allthough it is not officially described and therefore botanically not valid.
- Oliver Gluch also used this name to avoid confusion.

- The reason for the name var. areola is the white colouration on the inner site of the corolla (flower colour very similar to Pinguicula primuliflora).
- They found this variant only on one single site, where it was growing together with "normal" Pinguicula pumila.
He also added the information that he lost his plants in summer and asks for some seeds (which I will hopefully be able to send him soon). This again shows how important it is to distribute such clones quickly to avoid their total loss, just as you stated on your website... 



Pinguicula pumila var. areola


Photo : Dieter Kadereit

- November 2003 - 

Flowers of Pinguicula pumila 


Photo : Ed. Read


Outside bogs of P. lutea and P. pumila, from Pasco/Hernando Co FL, grown in Bob's garden.

Photo : Bob McMorris

P. pumila yellow and purple throat in an outside bog in Bob's garden.

Photo : Bob McMorris

P. pumila purple flowers closeup grown in Bob's garden.

Photo : Bob McMorris

P. pumila white flower closeup grown in Bob's garden. If this is the P. pumila f. alba by Moldenke (1973), so, what is the Pinguicula pumila var. typica by Michx. (1803) ?

Photo : Bob McMorris

In Wild...

P. pumila and Oliver Gluch on Big Pine Key, plants grow along the edge of the coral boulders in mostly sand and some humis; generally on the northern exposure.

Photo : Bob McMorris


P. pumila in Big Pine Key, unusual clumping of plants all from one original colonizing mother plant

Photo : Bob McMorris

P.pumila yellow throat purple flower from Big Pine Key, most of the flowers are of the yellow-throated form and with white to lite violet petals; these are from a darker form.


Photo : Bob McMorris

Pinguicula pumila both yellow /purple throats group of P. pumila grown in the greenhouse, note both throat colors and various petal colors; also the corolla shape varies as well. These are from the Pasco Giant clone.

Photo : Bob McMorris

Cluster of P. pumila yellow throat white and lite purple.

Photo : Bob McMorris


P. pumila dark purple form.

While the flower is out of focus, it does show this lovely dark purple form of P pumila. This is from the Pasco Giant clone, however I have seen it in clones from other areas.

Photo : Bob McMorris


P. pumila all white, poor photo, but does show that this form generally has small flowers, which are more tubular in shape.

Photo : Bob McMorris

P. pumila, yellow throat white and purple, close up showing the subtle color differences in the petal color; alos the striping on the throat (or spur).

Photo : Bob McMorris


Pinguicula pumila yellow-white, plants tend to grow shaded by grasses, which die off during the cooler months allowing the pings more light to grow and bloom( P. pumila blooms from october threw june)


Photo : Bob McMorris

Pinguicula pumila open flower shape

Photo : Bob McMorris

Pinguicula pumila purple flower shape

Photo : Bob McMorris

Pinguicula pumila purple in field, typically growing in permanetly damp grassy area, they are very difficult to find when not in bloom.

Photo : Bob McMorris


P. pumila flower shape

The flowers are coming from two plants growing almost on top of each other. Note the shape of the corollas.

Photo : Bob McMorris


P. pumila white open flower shape.


Poor pic but shows unsually large and open corolla shape for a white flower.

Photo : Bob McMorris


P. pumila both yellow and purple throats.


Note how heavy the grass cover. This dies off during the winter months, during the main blooming period.

Photo : Bob McMorris


Pinguicula pumila, flowers from white to purple


The gradation of petal color from white to dark royal purple can be subtle in some cases,but when seen along side each other are dramatic.

Photo : Bob McMorris


Pinguicula pumila, Everglades area


Plants grow on elevated areas around limestone/coral boulders only a few cm above the water. Grow as annuals as the whole area is flooded during the rainy season. Plants grow very quickly from seed to bloom in only a few months


Photo : Bob McMorris


Pinguicula pumila, Everglades area


Again plants are growing in grassy areas soil is mostly oolite, which is mostly calciferous rock mixed with some humis.


Photo : Bob McMorris