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Common Butterwort

Pinguicula vulgaris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, heathland, marshes, meadows, moorland, mountains, riverbanks, rocky places, swamps, wetland.

Purple, 2 petals
The flowers of Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) in the UK are small and have a striking violet or purple coloration. Each flower consists of five petals and stands on a solitary stalk. These flowers are a delightful sight in the late spring and early summer when they bloom in the UK's wetland areas.
The fruit of Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) in the UK is typically a small capsule, and it contains numerous tiny brown seeds. The capsule can split open to release the seeds, allowing for the plant's reproduction and dispersal.
The leaves of Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) in the UK are green with a rosette form, often tinged with purple or pink hues. These leaves are spoon-shaped and are characterized by the presence of tiny, adhesive hairs, which help trap insects. The leaves are sticky and adapted for the plant's carnivorous diet.
The fragrance of Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) in the UK is typically not strong or distinctive. Its primary appeal lies in its carnivorous nature, unique appearance, and colorful flowers, rather than any notable scent.
Other Names:
Bog Violet, Marsh Violet, Yellow Butterwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Pinguicula vulgaris, also known as common butterwort or yellow butterwort, is a species of flowering plant in the family Lentibulariaceae. It is native to Europe and is commonly found in wetland areas, such as marshes, bogs, and along the edges of ponds and streams. P. vulgaris is a herbaceous perennial that grows to a height of up to 20 centimeters. It has long, narrow, green leaves and small, purple or pink flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant is valued for its ornamental value and is commonly grown in gardens and parks. It is also used as a food source and is an important habitat plant for a variety of wildlife species. P. vulgaris is known for its ability to tolerate wet, muddy soil and is resistant to pests and diseases. P. vulgaris is a carnivorous plant that is adapted to growing in nutrient-poor soil. It captures insects using sticky mucilage on its leaves and derives nutrients from the digested prey.


Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) is a carnivorous plant that is native to Europe and North America. It is one of the many species of Butterwort, a genus of plants that is known for its ability to trap and digest insects.

The plant has a rosette of leaves that are covered in a sticky, glandular substance. This sticky substance is used to trap insects, which are then digested by the plant for their nutrients. The leaves of Common Butterwort are also frilly and often have a purple hue, making them quite attractive.

One unique feature of Common Butterwort is its ability to adapt to different growing conditions. It can be found in both moist and dry environments, and is able to switch between a carnivorous and a photosynthetic mode of growth depending on the availability of nutrients. In areas with abundant insect life, Common Butterwort will rely on its carnivorous traits to obtain the nutrients it needs. However, in areas with limited insect life, the plant will switch to a photosynthetic mode and produce flowers to attract pollinators.

In terms of care, Common Butterwort is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It prefers a moist, acidic soil and bright, indirect light. It can be propagated by dividing the rosette or by removing and planting the offsets that form at the base of the plant.

In addition to its carnivorous and adaptable nature, Common Butterwort has also been used for medicinal purposes in some cultures. Its leaves have been used as a treatment for wounds, skin conditions, and respiratory issues.

However, it is important to note that Common Butterwort is not meant for human consumption and can be toxic if ingested. It is also important to avoid using any chemicals near the plant, as it is sensitive to pollutants and pesticides.

If you are interested in growing Common Butterwort, it is a great option for a terrarium or a bog garden. It can also be grown in a container with a well-draining, carnivorous plant mix, or in a mixture of peat moss, sand, and perlite. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, as this can lead to root rot.

It's also worth noting that Common Butterwort is not only fascinating and attractive, but it also plays an important role in the ecosystem. As a carnivorous plant, it helps to control the populations of small insects and provides a source of food for other creatures, such as insects and small mammals.

Common Butterwort is also a hardy plant that can withstand a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions, making it suitable for growing in a variety of climates. However, it is important to protect it from frost, as this can damage or kill the plant.

If you are interested in growing Common Butterwort, it is best to start with young plants or seeds. It can take several years for Common Butterwort to reach maturity, but once established, it can live for several decades. With proper care and attention, Common Butterwort can provide years of enjoyment and beauty in your garden.

In conclusion, Common Butterwort is a unique and valuable addition to any carnivorous plant collection or garden. Its adaptable nature, attractive appearance, and important role in the ecosystem make it a fascinating and rewarding plant to grow.

30 Facts About the Common Butterwort

Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) is a carnivorous plant found in various parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Here are 30 facts about Common Butterwort:

1. Scientific Name: Pinguicula vulgaris.

2. Habitat: Common Butterwort is typically found in boggy and wetland areas.

3. Range: It's native to parts of Europe, Asia, and North America.

4. Carnivorous: Common Butterwort is a carnivorous plant that captures and digests insects.

5. Insect Traps: It uses sticky glandular leaves to catch insects.

6. Adhesive Glands: The leaves have tiny adhesive hairs that trap insects.

7. Digestive Enzymes: Once insects are trapped, the plant secretes digestive enzymes to absorb nutrients.

8. Nutrient Source: This adaptation helps the plant compensate for nutrient-poor soils.

9. Appearance: Common Butterwort leaves are green, often with purple or pinkish hues.

10. Rosette Form: The leaves form a basal rosette.

11. Leaves: The leaves are spoon-shaped and can be quite sticky.

12. Flowers: Common Butterwort produces violet or purple, five-petaled flowers.

13. Single Flowers: Each flower stands alone on a stalk.

14. Blooms: The plant typically blooms in late spring and early summer.

15. Insect Diet: It primarily feeds on small insects like gnats and flies.

16. Nocturnal Feeding: The plant is most active in trapping insects at night.

17. Perennial: Common Butterwort is a perennial plant, meaning it returns year after year.

18. Pollination: It is pollinated by various insects, including bumblebees.

19. Reproduction: Common Butterwort reproduces through both seeds and vegetative propagation.

20. Rhizomes: It spreads via underground rhizomes.

21. Carnivorous Competition: Common Butterwort sometimes competes with other carnivorous plants.

22. Protected in Some Areas: In some regions, it's a protected species due to habitat loss.

23. Conservation: Efforts are made to conserve this species and its habitat.

24. Sunlight: It prefers full or partial sunlight for growth.

25. Soil: Common Butterwort typically grows in peat-rich, acidic soils.

26. Acidic Environment: It thrives in environments with a pH as low as 4.

27. Adaptation to Poor Soils: The plant's carnivorous adaptation helps it grow in nutrient-poor soil.

28. Threats: Habitat destruction and wetland drainage are threats to its survival.

29. Medicinal Uses: In some traditional medicine systems, it was used for treating ailments.

30. Cultural Significance: It has cultural significance in some indigenous communities, often associated with folk beliefs and customs.


Butterwort filmed at Kentmere in Cumbria on the 1st June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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