The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Mexican and Central American Pinguicula
Heterophyllous species Heterophyllous (cont.)
Subgen. Isoloba sect. Agnata
P. agnata: HID
P. gigantea: OAX
P. greenwoodii: OAX
P. ibarrae: HID
P. martinezii: HID
P. pilosa: TAM

Subgen. Isoloba sect. Heterophyllum
P. acuminata: HID
P. conzattii: OAX
P. debbertiana: SLP
P. heterophylla: OAX, GUE, MIC
P. imitatrix: GUE
P. kondoi: TAM
P. laxifolia: TAM
P. medusina: OAX
P. mirandae: OAX
P. parvifolia: JAL
P. reticulata: SLP
P. rotundiflora: TAM, NUE

Subgen. Orcheosanthus sect. Crassifolia
P. ehlersiae: HID, SLP
P. esseriana: SLP
P. jaumavensis: TAM

Subgen. Orcheosanthus sect. Longitubus
P. calderoniae: QUE, SLP
P. crassifolia: HID
P. hemiepiphytica: OAX
P. laueana: OAX
P. utricularioides: OAX
Subgen. Orcheosanthus sect. Orcheosanthus
P. colimensis: COL, MIC, GUE
P. cyclosecta: NUE
P. elizabethiae: QUE, HID
P. gypsicola: SLP
P. macrophylla: GUA (& HID?)
P. mesophytica: ES, GT, HO
P. moctezumae: QUE, HID
P. moranensis: many MX states; GT
P. oblongiloba: western MX states
P. orchidioides: OAX, GUE; GT
P. potosiensis: SLP
P. rectifolia: OAX
P. stolonifera: OAX
P. zecheri: GUE

Subgen. Temnoceras sect. Microphyllum
P. gracilis: NUE
P. immaculata: NUE
P. nivalis: NUE

Homophyllous species
Subgen. Isoloba sect. Isoloba
P. lilacina: many MX states; BZ, GT
P. sharpii: CHI
P. takakii: SLP

Subgen. Temnoceras sect. Temnoceras
P. clivorum: CHI; GT
P. crenatiloba: OAX; GT, HO, ES, PA
P. emarginata: VER, PUE
BZ=Belize
ES=El Salvador
GT=Guatemala
HO=Honduras
PA=Panama
MX=México

GUE=Guerrero, MX
OAX=Oaxaca, MX
TAM=Tamaulipas, MX
SLP=San Luis Potosí, MX
HID=Hidalgo, MX
QUE=Querétaro, MX
NUE=Nuevo León, MX
COL=Colima, MX
MIC=Michoacán, MX
GUA=Guanajuato, MX
JAL=Jalisco, MX
CHI=Chiapas, MX
PUE=Puebla, MX
VER=Veracruz, MX

Q: Pinguicula: species of Mexico and Central America

A: By any measure, southern Mexico is a center of tremendous diversity for Pinguicula. Here we find some of the most spectactular plants in the genus. Many of these plants also have enormous and beautifully colored flowers.

With such diversity, however, comes some challenges. It seems that many of the species are not clearly differentiated from each other, so where some botanists see multiple species all with subtle differences, others may see a smaller number of species that have variable characteristics. I am not an expert on these issues; I only know enough to be able to pay attention to the discussions. The wide-ranging species Pinguicula moranensis has a particularly large number of synonymous names. My lists of species to the right reflects my weakly-formed opinions.

Some of the species from this region produce leaves that are more or less the same in structure and size, regardless of the season. They are called "homophyllous" species (i.e. "same leaves").

In contrast, the majority of these species occur in habitats where they experience a relatively wet season and a dry season. To survive the dry season they become more or less dormant, and during this dormancy period they produce shorter (usually non-carnivorous) leaves. Such species are called the "heterophyllous" (i.e. "different leaves"). Pinguicula colimensis regresses to a structure that essentially looks like a bulb. Pinguicula moranensis produces a mass of leaves so short and tightly packed that it looks more like a species of Sempervivum than anything carnivorous! Meanwhile, P. agnata is barely heterophyllous, and its dormancy leaves are only marginally smaller than its normal leaves.

Many of the Mexican species hybridize, and the resulting plants are often easier to grow than pure species.

The table above lists the subgenera and sections for Pinguicula from this geographic range. As increasingly robust molecular research is done, these groupings will no doubt be rearranged. I would be happy to hear from experts on how these should be reshuffled, as the current classifications of some of the entries above unsettle me.

Comments on a few of the particularly noteworthy species above follow. Eventually I will comment on all the species individually, but that will have to await another FAQ expansion.

Pinguicula colimensis--This plant, which has extremely pretty flowers, has very long-stalked tentacles.

Pinguicula cyclosecta--I am particularly fond of this species, as the dainty foliage of some clones in cultivation have an intriguing purplish cast.

Pinguicula emarginata--Differing from the rounded margins of most Pinguicula flowers, this species has irregularly ragged flower petals.

Pinguicula gigantea--This species is interesting because, among other things, stalked glands occur on both the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves. Very few other species share this characteristic. This is probably the same entity as a plant distributed under the name Pinguicula 'Ayautla'.

Pinguicula gypsicola--One of the species with long, snakelike leaves that make it look somewhat sundewish.

Pinguicula laueana--The flowers of most clones are intensely red, but some have flowers that are pale red, or purple hued, or even orange. The foliage is often dull red, especially in dormancy, but this is not a rule as some plants are a more conventional, bright green.

Pinguicula moranensis--The most widespread species in this group, there are many variants that have been given names that have later been denounced by science, such as "P. caudata". The lovely cultivar P. moranensis 'Libelulita' indicates a clone of this species with highly veined petals.

Page citations: Casper, J. 1966; Cieslak, T. et al., 2005; Rice, B. 2006a; Schlauer, J. 2002; Shimai, H. & Kondo, K. 2007.

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Revised: August 2008
©Barry Rice, 2005