Re: Heliamphora

Liane Cochran-Stafira (
Thu, 19 Oct 1995 12:45:01 -0500

>Well, my H. ionasi is about have its first non-juvenile pitcher!
>I'm so excited. It has been a very vigorous plant. All of the
>juvenile pitchers have arranged themselves in a very striking
>rosette, very different than the other species I grow.
>My house has been invaded by large spiders this fall. I've
>been capturing them for my Heliamps and the plants have
>responded with larger pitchers. But is this a coincidence??
>I recall reading that these plants need bacteria to assist
>them in digesting insects? Is this a common bacteria? Has
>it been identified, or will any bacteria do?
>James Powell

The bacteria involved in prey decomposition come from the bodies of the
prey themselves, whatever drops in from the air or gets splashed in when it
rains, and so on. I wouldn't worry about trying to introduce additional
bacteria, there will be plenty as soon as the pitchers open. From the
research I've done on bacteria in Sarracenia pitchers in the field and in
the lab, there really doesn't appear to be a specific group of bacterial
species involved. The actual species of bacteria will vary from one
location to another. So long as the bacterial community as a whole is able
to digest insect tissues etc., and provide the nitrates and other nutrients
to the plant, any bacteria will do.

Good luck with your Heliamphora!

Liane Cochran-Stafira
Dept. of Ecology and Evolution
The University of Chicago
1101 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637-5415
phone: 312-702-1930