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Pinguicula vulgaris (Common butterwort)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Pinguicula vulgaris

Pinguicula vulgaris L.

Common Butterwort

Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort Family)

Synonym(s): Pinguicula vulgaris var. americana


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

A small plant with stalkless, broadly lanceolate leaves in a basal rosette and 1 bilaterally symmetrical, lavender or purple flower (rarely white) on a leafless stalk.

This species also occurs in Eurasia. The genus name means "greasy little one," referring to the slimy upper surface and fatty texture of the soft fleshy leaves. Small organisms that stick to the leaves are digested by the plant. The very similar Violet Butterwort (P. caerulea) is found in sandy moist pinelands, bogs, and ditches from North Carolina south to Florida and Louisiana. Dwarf Butterwort (P. pumila), found from North Carolina south to Florida and Texas, is smaller, with a pale lavender flower less than 1/2" (1.5 cm) long on a stalk usually less than 4" (10 cm) high. Southern Butterwort (P. primuliflora), found from Georgia and Florida west to Mississippi, usually growing in running water, has a violet flower with a white ring in the center and a yellow beard inside the lower lip.


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 8 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , ME , MI , MN , NH , NY , VT , WA , WI
Canada: NB , NL , NS
Native Distribution: Alaska and British Columbia east to Newfoundland and Greenland, south to New York, and west to Minnesota; south to northwestern California in the West.
Native Habitat: Bogs, banks, on wet rocks, and in open moist soil in limestone areas.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High


Use Other: This carnivorous plant has greasy leaves on whose surface insects are caught and digested by enzymes. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 26 - Minnesota Wildflowers: a field guide to the flora of Minnesota (2009)
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Pinguicula vulgaris in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Pinguicula vulgaris in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Pinguicula vulgaris


Record Modified: 2023-04-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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