Carnivorous Flowers and Plants

Carnivorous Flowers and Plants

It’s a fact that girls love flowers. How about getting the woman in your life a flower that is not only beautiful but useful? It might be a nice idea if you are looking for a present. Just imagine how happy she would be if the flower would eat the mosquitoes and spiders she might be afraid of. I definitely would! Today we will talk about carnivorous flowers and plants, what they eat, and how they hunt. Please thumb up, Digg and Reddit, and share with your friends!

Drosera

Drosera (also known as Sundew) is one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants in the world. Both Latin and common names are derived from the appearance which resembles morning dew. There are many Drosera species which are distinguished by various forms and sizes:  Australian Drosera pygmaea is the smallest one with its 5 mm long leaves while the largest Drosera grows up to 60 cm and is known as the King Sundew. Drosera captures and digests insects using its leaves, and then absorbs nutrients from their bodies. The borders and upper surface of the leaves are covered by glaring gluey drops which release a special secretion when the insect gets into the trap. The plant’s tentacles produce a glue-like substance which contains alkaloid Coniine and causes paralytic reactions in prey. Sundews are able to move and curve their tentacles in order to maximize their contact with prey — so dramatic!

Photo by Roger B.

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Photo by Peter from Perth

Nepenthes

Nepenthes (known as tropical pitcher plants) are one of the largest carnivorous plants in tropical Asia. Nepenthes belong to lianas from which they inherited the ability to climb branches and trunks. Nepenthes got their name from the mythical drug Nepenthe in 1787. Another name for the plant is “Monkey Cup” which is derived from the fact that monkeys have been noticed drinking rainwater from the pitchers. The plants have sword-shaped leaves which extend and form pitcher-like traps. There is a waterproof, slick, waxy cover above the pitcher which attracts prey with its sweet scent. After approaching, prey slide into a lower part of the trap without any chance of escape. The lower part of the pitcher contains a self-produced syrupy fluid which is used to drown the prey. Usually Nepenthes catch insects, but larger species may occasionally get caught (even rats and lizards).

Photo by Eric in SF

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Photo by Eric in SF

Photo by richardsinyem

Dionaea muscipula

Dionaea muscipula (aka Venus Flytrap) is a carnivorous plant that catches mostly arachnids and insects. Dionaea have a pair of leaf lobes hinged at the midrib with small hairs on the edges which forms a trap. Dionaea can capture prey very quickly and in a terrifying way. When the insect approaches the leaf and touches one or more hairs repeatedly, the leaves are triggered and the trap is closed. This energy-saving mechanism is activated only when redundant triggering is occurred. It’s observed that lobes can shut within 0.2 seconds. Upon closing, the Dionaea spend around 30 seconds to identify the prey and then start the digestion process that usually takes up to 72 hours. The Venus Flytrap changes in size depending on the season. For instance, in summer the leaves reach their largest sizes and the most vivid color variations to attract insects.

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Photo by Marylise Doctrinal

Darlingtonia californica

The Darlingtonia californica (also known as the California Pitcher Plant and Cobra Plant) is a carnivorous plant growing in California bogs with cold running water. The Darlingtonia is considered to be rare and is a protected plant species according to the Washington Convention. It is distinguished by bright-colored flowers and mystery-shaped leaves with a sweet-scented sap which attracts innocuous insects. Gracefully curved leaves of the Darlingtonia resemble the aggressive and ready-to-action standing position of a cobra. Attracted by the internal smell, prey get into traps and drown inside the pitcher. Unlike other pitcher-like plants, the Darlingtonia doesn’t produce digestive enzymes and, instead, contains symbiotic bacteria which handle nutrient absorption.

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Photo by Chris D 2006

Heliamphora

The Heliamphora (of which the scientific translation means “marsh pitcher plant”) is a carnivorous plant genre with elegant rosette-like tubular leaves. It grows in the rainforest mountains of Guyana and Venezuela. The stems of some species of Heliamphora rise to more than 120 cm and are branched and slightly shrubby. Just like the Darlingtonia the Heliamphora they depend on bacteria to provide the appropriate enzymes in digesting their prey. The tubular-shaped leaves are filled with rainwater and are equipped with slick walls which make the traps for insects impossible to escape from. The Heliamphora let the food rot in their traps before consuming the decomposed molecules as they are unable to secrete the digestive juices to perform digestion.

Photo by cpbotanist

Photo by DrWurm

Photo by DrWurm

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Butterwort

The Butterwort is a carnivorous plant found in Eurasia and North America. Like others it captures moths, flies, gnats, and other flying insects as its prey. The Butterwort plant derived its name from its genre’s name – Pinguicula – which translates from Latin as “fat.” The temperate Butterworts grow rosette leaves and flowers from spring to summer with spectacular blooms of white, yellow or purple. These rosette leaves attract insects by their conspicuously glistering surface, and keep them with their self-produced fatty secretions until death. An interesting fact is that Butterworts pass through a cycle — from carnivorous to non-carnivorous rosette leaves depending on the season.

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Drosophyllum

Drosophyllum is a carnivorous plant genre native to the Mediterranean region. Unlike other carnivorous plants it seeks dry and alkaline soils. Drosophyllum is often mistakenly recognized as Sundew, which is indeed is closely relative. Unlike Drosera, the Drosophyllum doesn’t have the ability to curve its leaves to get in contact with prey as easily. None of the tentacles of Drosophyllum, neither those on the upper nor lower surface of the leaves, are capable of movement when excited. They still capture numerous insects, which serve as nutriment.

Photo from wikipedia.org

Photo from wikipedia.org

Photo by DrWurm

Photo by DrWurm

Photo by Chelo Meneses

Sarracenia

Sarracenia is a part of a pitcher-like carnivorous plant genus found in the eastern part of North America. They inhabit primarily wet or sandy meadows, savannas, swamps, bogs, and fens. Sarracenia attracts its prey with its sweet and nectar-like secretion on the pitcher surface, and its colorful appearance. When the prey gets into the pitcher tube it has no chance to escape the thick and coarse hairs. It drowns in a fluid pool. The digestive process starts immediately by attacking the prey with a toxic coniine poison. Apart from nitrogen, Sarracenia absorbs phosphorus from its prey. Unlike the related plants, the Sarracenia flava is distinguished by its especially unpleasant smell which resembles cat urine.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve always been interested in carnivorous plants. The idea that a plant can demonstrate some agency, and exhibit predatory behavior, has always been fascinating to me. Thanks for the post.

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