E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Pinguicula vulgaris L.
common butterwort
Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #65923)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Pinguicula vulgaris
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Species Information

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Insect-eating perennial herb from a fibrous root; stems erect, simple, solitary to few, 3-16 cm tall, glabrous to minutely hairy, the hairs club-shaped.
Basal leaves 5-7, simple, entire, fleshy, lance-elliptic, 1.5-5 cm long, 7-24 mm wide, glabrous below, glabrous or slimy-glandular above (where small insects are digested), margins inrolled; stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence of single flowers; corollas funnel-like, dark violet-blue, rarely white, 15-25 mm long, with a spur, white hairs in the throat, the lobes of the lower lip oblong to egg-shaped; calyces lobed, 3-5 mm long.
Capsules, 4-6 mm long, erect.
Two closely related and intergrading subspecies occur in BC:

1. Corolla lobes of the lower lip oblong to nearly egg-shaped, more or less covering each other, or at least touching; lower lip of the calyces split up to half their length.....................ssp. macroceras (Link) Calder & Tayl.

1. Corolla lobes of the lower lip oblong, not covering or touching each other; lower lip of the calyces split up to 2/3 of their length...................ssp. vulgaris

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Bogs, fens, swamps, and mossy seeps in all but the alpine zone; ssp. Macroseras infrequent on the coast and rare inland; ssp. vulgaris frequent in N BC, infrequent in S BC; ssp macroceras – amphiberingian, to AK and SW YT and S to CA; E Asia; ssp vulgaris – circumboreal, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to NY and VT; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Pinguicula vulgaris

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 6 429 1960
Slope Gradient (%) 0 18 120
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 356 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 5 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BWBS(6), CMA(2), CWH(65), ESSF(5), MH(12), MS(1), SWB(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Pinguicula vulgaris subsp. macroceras (Link) Calder & Roy L. Taylor
Pinguicula vulgaris var. americana A. Gray
Pinguicula vulgaris var. macroceras (Link) Herder

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

General References