Usually we tend to picture animals when we hear the word 'carnivorous'. Generally no one imagines that plants can also be 'meat eating'. There are a few species of plants that trap, kill and eat insects and these are called carnivorous plants. Carnivorous plants are usually found in areas where the soil has a nitrogen deficit and in order to fulfill their requirement of nitrogen, these plants capture animals, specially insects and provide a supplement to their diet by eating this unsuspecting prey. The carnivorous plants have bright colored parts, covered with fine hair like structures which attracts the insects. The creature, attracted by the bright hues fly over to the plants and settles down only to be devoured by the plant.
Carnivorous Plants Facts
These plants are similar to the normal plants, with the only difference being their feeding habits. Given below is a brief information on some of the flesh eating plants.
- Carnivorous plants are usually classified as monocots (seeds that have only one cotyledon or embryo) and dicots (seeds having two cotyledons).
- Another classification (or groups) of the carnivorous plants is passive traps, semi-active and active traps.
- Around 600 varieties of carnivorous plants are found across the globe (except in Antarctica), but only a few, like butterworts (also known as bladderwort), pitcher plant, sundew and Venus fly trap plant are well-known. Carnivorous plants come in different sizes from the tiny specimens to the plants that are as tall as a normal human being. Sometimes these plants can also outgrow human beings.
- These plants are normally found in bogs, wet marshy lands or on the sides of rocks or cliff faces. They are also known as insectivorous plants as they feed on insects.
- They excellently adapt to the nutrient poor environment by trapping and feeding on insects and small reptiles and birds. These plants produce nectar and pollen that act as an attractant for the insects. When the insect settles on the leaf or pitcher, it closes hence trapping the insect inside. The plant then releases certain juices or enzymes in the pitcher or modified leaf that help in digesting the prey.
- Carnivorous plants can also be cultivated as potted plants or houseplants. But one must take care to provide similar soil and water as found in their original habitat, for the plants to flourish. These plants can also be grown in greenhouses.
Carnivorous Plants List
Here is some more information regarding the names of carnivorous plants and their adaptations.
- Dionaea muscipula: Also known as the Venus fly trap, this plant is found in the lowlands of North Carolina. Since their natural habitat is diminishing, they can be found at Carolina Beach State Park near Wilmington, North Carolina. The leaves of this plant are modified and each portion of the leaf has tiny, fine hair that are sensitive. When an insect sits on top of the leaf, the two parts of the leaves clasp tightly, thus trapping the insect.
- Drosera: Drosera or the sundews are found in all the continents except in Antarctica because of the extreme cold climate. About 180 species of drosera have been identified. The leaves of the drosera have an adhesive like substance which makes the insect 'stick' on its surface and digesting its prey with the help of digestive enzymes.
- Genlisea: Genlisea, better known as corkscrew plants, grow in wet places. The traps of these plants, located underwater are formed by curved and sensitive hair like structure.
- Drosophyllum: It is also known as the Dewy pine and grows up to two feet, making it the tallest carnivorous plant among all the species. These plants are found along the Portuguese coast and some plants have leaves that can grow up to one feet.
- Darlingtonia: Popularly known as cobra lily, this plant grows in patches and is found along the Pacific coast. This plant digests its food with the help of bacteria and certain animals like slime mites and flying midges.
- Aldrovanda: This plant bears a resemblance to a Venus fly trap that grows underwater and is also called the waterwheel plant since its leaves are similar to the wheel. The leaves of this plants have traps located on the end of its arms.
- Nepenthes: Also known as the pitcher plant, they are mostly forum in the tropical regions of America, Brazil etc. the plants have a modified, pitcher like structure filled with liquid. The deep cavity also has a lid like growth that closes once the prey enters the pitcher, thus stopping the insect from escaping. Some other varieties of pitcher plants are Heliamphora, Sarracenia and Cephalotus.
- Utricularia: The plant is commonly known as bladderwort due to its bladder shaped traps. There are around 220 species of bladderworts, with some of them living underwater.
- Pinguicula: Otherwise known as butterworts, these plants have bright flowers that attract a passing insect to its sticky leaves. The flowers are yellow in color and usually grow in clusters.
This was some fascinating information about carnivorous plants. Though carnivorous plants are shown as dangerous and menacing creatures in Hollywood movies, it is just fiction as these plants do not harm human beings. Hope you found the article on carnivorous plants information to be an interesting read..