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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Pitcher Plants
Or, deadly beauty

I've always been rather fascinated by carnivorous plants—more for their splendid colors and patterns, I think, than their diet—and the white topped pitcher (Sarracenia leucophylla) are my particular faves (as you might have noticed I use a thumbnail of I photographed years ago as the ‘missing icon’ thumbnail;) Here are some of the better pix I took of these in the Victorian Greenhouse at Frederick Meijer Gardens, which happen to be located in Grand Rapids, MI, on the western side of the state.[1]

I was bad & neglected to document the species. But googling suggests a nepenth. Olympus E620, 50mm zuiko macro, 1/500s, f/2.8, ev +0.3, ISO 200, cropped in gimp

You can see a bit of the greenhouse glass in the background. The roof was crisscrossed with wires and rods and gears—even curtains—for automatically controlling the temperature, and all that hardware, complete with whirring and ratcheting (once the day warmed up) all rather reminded me of the steampunk/victorian sensibility.

Again, no docs, but possibly the highland pitcher, a Nepenthes thorelli? Olympus E620, 50mm zuiko macro, 1/1200s, f/2.8, ev +1.0, ISO 200, cropped in gimp

One of the more interesting theories I'd encountered about these plants is that the lipped ones that look rather like commodes are, in fact...commodes. For small mammals and insects: that it's the droppings they're primarily harvesting, and animals falling in was just a sort of unfortunate side-effect. Can't remember where I read this, but it might have been at the bbc article, which has some absolutely splendid pictures from a two-volume book I'd really like to get my paws on:)

Pelican Flower: Aristolochia grandiflora. Found in Central America & the Caribbean. Reminds me more of a reticulated giraffe, really. (Not sure which of several shots it is, but same equipment & roughly similar settings as others.)

They had an early terrarium set up as well—sort of a mini glasshouse within; turns out this doctor Ward inadvertently discovered how to transport fragile specimens in ships. In these modern times when stuff can be shipped first or second day air, with gel packs to keep it properly warm or cool, it's hard to imagine how Darwin and other early scientists fought to bring their collections back during long sea voyages. (I seem to recall one [fictional][2] scientist struggling to keep the seamen from drinking the alcohol he used to pickle his specimens. Ugh!

Sarracenia leucophylla. This lot is on the rather reddish side. Olympus E620, 50mm zuiko macro, 1/100s, f/3.5, ev +0.3, ISO 200, cropped in gimp

Photos 14jun2010. Photo captions and a footnote added Feb 2024.

[1]The outdoor gardens are quite nice too, with sculptures by Dale Chihuly and the like...but the visitors tend to be very, very white. I think I counted one Indian family, perhaps two, when I visited.

[2]This would've been, um, Blue Morpho? from A.S. Byatt's splendid Angels & Insects, which was made into an equally good movie.


[photography] [2010] [flora] [2024]