Sometimes known as insectivorous plants, Carnivorous plants are photosynthetic plants which live in nutrient poor surroundings, where the soil has insufficient nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The soil where these plants are grown is highly acidic. Since these plants grow in area lacking essential nutrients, they fulfill this requirement by drawing nutrients from insects, amphibians and certain mammals. With more than 600 species, these plants are both aquatic and terrestrial. Different species have different mechanism to trap and consume its prey. Usually these plants are found in damps, swamps, bogs, fens and places where water is seasonally accumulated. Ten intriguing carnivorous plants are listed below:
Sundew is a sticky shimmering carnivorous plant of the genus Drosera and with over a 100 species. The natural habitat of the plant is bogs where the soils has low nutrient concentration. Its leaves are covered with red tentacles that secret dew drops from their sticky glands. These twinkling droplets are made up of water and complex sugar which attracts insects with its sweet fragrance and taste. The tentacles have sessile glands at its base which produce digestive enzymes to dissolve its prey. Then insect gets trap in the super sticky substance present on its tentacles. In the case of the Cape Sundew, the plant envelops its prey with its leaves, therefore maximizing the point of contact. On an average a sundew can kill its prey in 15 minutes.
It is predatory plant. The tentacles of the sundew also have the power to differentiate between a living and non living thing.
- VENUS FLY-TRAP
Venus Fly Trap is the most famous and the only member from the genus Dionaea of the family Droseraceae. The leaves of this predatory plant are about 8-15 cm long, divided into lobes hinged along the midrib and are fringed with prickly hair. The predatory plant makes itself attractive by oozing nectar at the brim of each leaf. Three small bristle hair in the middle of the upper lobe are extremely sensitive to touch. With two three consecutive touch on these bristle hair its leaves trigger an electric impulse and snaps shut in a blink of an eye. About 10 days later the trap reopens with the remains of its prey. The gland on its leaves produces digestive enzymes which draw valuable nutrients specially nitrogen from the insect.
- PITCHER PLANT
Belonging to the Nepenthes genus, pitcher plant is commonly found in tropical Asia and northern Australia. Pitcher plant attracts little insects with its dazzling, vibrant colors and tempting aroma. Its pitfall trap passively collects and digests its prey. It is characterized with a vas like hollow elongated leaf with a lid at the top. Like other insectivores plants, pitcher plant attracts traps, kills and consumes its prey. The insects approach the plant to sup its nectar. The coniine, a powerful narcotic to insects in its nectar makes the insects dizzy. It stumbles and falls into the pool of digestive enzymes at the bottom. The enzymes and bacteria in the liquid at base slowly break its body down. However it cannot digest the skin of its victim. Fun fact about the pitcher plant is that an unopened plant can be used as a laxative, a medicine for burns, cough and several skin conditions as well.
A member of the largest of the carnivores family Lentibulariaceae, bladder wort are insect eating plants found bog lakes and other waterlogged areas. It has beautiful flowers that bisexual and bilatrically asymmetric. It is named Bladderwort because of its hollow bladder underwater which has flexible opening acting as a trap. Bladderwort actively sucks in small organisms using a partial vacuum system. When a small insect triggers the tiny hair like projections at the opening, the trap opens and sucks in the water along with the prey. When the insect is digested the water is moved from the interior to the exterior of the bladder and trap reopens but this time to release the water. Its victims are usually mosquitoes, larvae and smalls fishes
Pinguicula popularly known as the Butterworts are carnivorous plants which forms stem less rosettes. The plant is found in areas like peat bogs, vertical rock bogs, damp soil and mossy banks where the soil is alkaline and only some plants can thrive. Butterwort can be considered both carnivorous and herbivorous, since they extract nourishment from pollens and parts of other plants and tiny insects. It coaxes its prey with the help of bright leaves and reflective wet appearance. The peduncular gland present on butterwort’s, secretes mucilage and once the insect sits on its leaves it is unable to fly back again, ever. The digestive enzymes produced by the sessile gland come into action and breaks down the valuable components of the body. All the fluids are absorbed back by the leaf leaving behind the residual exoskeleton.
Corkscrew, plants of the Genlisea genus are small rootless herbs with two types of leaves: one above the ground to perform photosynthesis and other underground white leaves to trap its prey. The subterranean leaves are referred as spiraling lobster trap. The plant thrives in areas with standing water and acidic soil. It is native to Africa, Central and Southern America. The highly modified underground leaves of the plant do all its carnivorous activities i.e. attract, trap and digest its prey. The plant feeds on a micro fauna.
- COBRA LILY
The cobra lily is a type of pitcher plant and it is named so because of its snake like appearance. The plant usually grows in fens and peaty wetlands, which are a hostile environment because of their low nutrient levels. It has two fangs that plunge into bottom of the pitcher. Insects deceive the plant to be flower and assume that its fangs has n store a lot of nectar. This ingenious plant allures the insect with its sweet secretions, then makes it slip down its descending tube and manipulate its victim several false exits. Once it drowns into the fluid filled bottom the digestive enzymes break it and absorb the nutrients. A general trivia about the cobra lily is that it has power to even survive fire by regenerating its roots.
Byblis has a very fancy common name of Rainbow Plant because if its enchanting appearance. But appearances can be deceptive. It has elegant lilac flowers and glistening leaves and pollens by them are only released due to the high frequency generated by the beating wing of an approaching insect. Like other carnivorous plants Byblis grow in unfriendly habitat. So its carnivorous nature is an adaptation to survive in hostile conditions. The glands on its leaves secret mucilaginous substance, which helps in luring and capturing insects. The struggling insect gets entangles in more glue and die of suffocation. The sessile digestive glands produce enzymes that help in dissolving and absorbing vital nutrients.
- DEWY PINE
Contrary to other carnivorous plants the dewy pines prefer grow in dry soil such as scrubs and sunny heaths and is native to Western Mediterranean region. Sessile and pedunculated glands are present on the leaves plays the most important role in capturing and digesting the prey. The insects get attracted by its sweet aroma, sit on its leaves and get stuck by the goo on the leaves. The only regular supply of water for the plant is from the dew drops. Due to appearing similarity with the sundew the plant was once considered a member of the family Droseraceae. But studies have proven it to be unique enough to be a sole member of family drosophyllaceae.
- BROCCHINIA REDUCTA
Endemic to southern Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, and Guyana Brocchinia reducta is carnivorous bromeliads. The plant has a reservoir of sweet aroma water, surrounded by overlapping leaves. The leaves of the plant are super slippery and scaled with reflective ultraviolet light. The insect usually slips down the tabular twirl of overlapping leaves into the cup filled with water. The plant does not produce its own digestive enzymes; rather it depends on bacteria to perform the task. Similar to the pitcher plant, Reducta has a pitfall trapping mechanism.