Pinguicula gigantea – natural pest control

Pinguicula gigantea growing in a 15cm (6 inch) clay pan.

Pinguicula gigantea growing in a 15cm (6 inch) clay pan.

The butterworts, known botanically as Pinguicula, are a varied and widespread genus.  British botanists are used to seeing two species growing in very wet areas however in Mexico many of the butterworts grow in seasonally arid places and have thick succulent leaves and overwintering small rosettes to survive adverse conditions.  In a previous blog I reported the arrival of some Mexican butterworts to our tropical teaching collection. 

Since then we have been given one of the largest species of mexican butterwort – Pinguicula gigantea and it has come into flower in the past week.  This species is named for its very large leaf rosette, sadly it’s flowers are smaller than some other species. It is related to P. agnata and has many similarities of floral form.This group of species form a closely related clade from Mexico (Beck et al. 2008; Cieslak et al. 2005).

As well as providing the raw material for discussion of plant evolution and biogeography these plants also act as natural pest control catching Sciarid flies very easily. Our plant is growing in a mixture of 90% Seramis granules, 10% clay/sand so has a very free draining substrate.

There is an excellent account of this species in the wild in Mexico by Fernando Rivadavia including photographs of the species growing out of a rock face.


Beck, S. G., Fleischmann, a., Huaylla, H., Müller, K. F., & Borsch, T. (2008). Pinguicula chuquisacensis (Lentibulariaceae), a new species from the Bolivian Andes, and first insights on phylogenetic relationships among South American Pinguicula. Willdenowia, 38(1), 201. doi:10.3372/wi.38.38115

Cieslak, T., Polepalli, J. S., White, A., Müller, K., Borsch, T., Barthlott, W., … Legendre, L. (2005). Phylogenetic analysis of Pinguicula (Lentibulariaceae): chloroplast DNA sequences and morphology support several geographically distinct radiations. American Journal of Botany, 92(10), 1723–36. doi:10.3732/ajb.92.10.1723

About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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