syn. Pinguicula macroceras, Pinguicula macroceras var. macroceras, Pinguicula vulgaris ssp. macroceras, Pinguicula vulgaris var. macroceras
Pronounced: pin-GWI-kew-lah vul-GAH-ris
Northern States including Alaska, down to the Pacific Northwest and across to the Great Lakes and New England states. All provinces in Canada, Europe, and Northern Asia.
Sunset zones: Not listed.
USDA zones: 3-8.
Height: 1-5 inches (5-15 cm).
July to August.
Solitary violet flowers with a white throat, sit on top of its stem, the calyx has 5 lobes. Upper three lobes united at the top, and lower two united on the bottom.
Succulent, oblanceolate with a slimy upper surface.
Full sun to partial shade.
Moist, boggy or gravelly moist soils.
Sow seed as soon as ripe for best results.
In late winter, remove tiny buds (called gemmae) from the mother bud and plant pointy side up.
Transplant and divide only in late winter. The plants resent root disturbance during active growth.
Rainy Side Notes
Butterworts are one of the coolest carnivorous plants. Their leaves secret a glue substance that traps any insect that lands on it. When the bug is trapped, the leaves secrete enzymes and acids, which digest the insect. A freaky way to die, if you think about it, but for plants that live on soils that are devoid of nutrients, it helps them occupy a system with little competition for growing space.
Darwin studied this widespread species, which grows in temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere across the globe. Here in the Northwest, I found them growing in mossy seeps on a trip to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains. Some of the plants were perched on basalt rock with no soil, but steady seepage. Other plants grew in moist, rocky soils alongside streams. Every time I go up to the mountains, I always stop and seek them out. One year, I couldn't find them in my usual go-to place. A landslide had rerouted the stream flow, and they were gone. However, a few years later I found them growing and flowering in some newly laid tracks of seeping water on the rocks. Sounds like a drink these carnivores would order—"seeping water on the rocks, please."
This species grows in the same wetland conditions of fens, bogs, swamps, and moss-covered seeps that another carnivorous plant inhabits—the round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).
The indigenous Oweekenos dried the roots and made a good luck charm from them. In Europe, it was once thought that butterworts protected cows from elves, and humans from witches and faeries.