Carnivorous Plant Information, Food And List

In this carnivorous plants database you will learn about many different varieties.

Most of us believe that plants are relatively benign and harmless. We cultivate many kinds for food. In the spring we toss a few bean seeds into the ground or pot up a young tomato seeding, water accordingly, add some fertilizer, then sit back to wait for those little green shoots to sprout or the first yellow blooms to appear. A few months later we're presented with slim and delicious green beans or red juicy tomatoes.

There are other plants, however, that aren't satisfied with just sitting around in the dirt, soaking up fertilizer and sunshine and waiting for us to eat them. They're too busy catching small living creatures for food. These plants are called "carnivorous plants". Because they live in nutrient poor environments, they need the nitrogen live prey provides to survive. Venus's-Fly Traps and Bladderworts are two of the most common carnivorous plant varieties.

Carnivorous plants produce attractants like pollen or nectar to lure their prey and have trapping mechanisms to capture and hold insects while they're being digested. There are more than 600 different species of carnivorous plants in the world. They live and grow in bogs, on the sides of rocks or cliff faces and in water, and range in size from very tiny specimens to ones that stand taller than a man. These sometimes emit extremely foul odors and are equipped with traps large enough to catch small reptiles and birds. Many carnivorous plants are deceptively beautiful, some resembling orchids and others producing lovely clusters of pink, white or yellow flowers.

The most well known and fascinating carnivorous plant is the Venus's-Flytrap, its only habitat the boggy regions in North and South Carolina. They belong to a species of blooming perennial herbs called "Sundews", the most common carnivorous variety. Venus's-Flytraps grow to a height of around 12 inches and produce small white flowers. Like most Sundews, their leaves are the trapping mechanism and are divided into two halves. The edges of the leaves are equipped with sharp spines and the centre secretes a sweet sticky fluid that attracts insects. If a fly lands on the open trap, trigger hairs cause it to snap closed, the spines holding the fly inside. An enzyme is immediately released and begins digesting the insect, a process that takes 9-10 days. After the 4thor 5th digestion cycle, the trap dies and a new one appears.

The Pitcher Plant belongs to the "dicot" family of carnivorous plants. Their leaves grow in the shape of a trumpet or pitcher and like the Venus's-Flytrap also secrete a nectar to lure prey. When an insect lands on the edge of the pitcher and begins to crawl along the nectar

trail, downward pointing hairs and then a smooth halfway point make it difficult for the insect to backtrack. Thus trapped inside the pitcher, it slides the rest of the way into a pool of nectar, drowns and then secreted enzymes begin the digestion process. Pitcher plants are also

found in many regions of the world and in various habitats from bogs to sandy areas. Some of the more common varieties are the parrot pitcher and the sun pitchers.

A third genus of carnivorous plant, the Bladderworts, grow either on land, where they take root in mud, or floating in ponds or other calm water sources. What makes Bladderworts distinct from their carnivorous counterparts are the "utricles", or bladders they use to capture their prey. These appendages are attached to the leaves, or in the case of aquatic bladderworts, off the root system, and look like little individual purses. These bladders are usually about 0.2 inches in diameter and have a small orifice equipped with bristles. When tiny organisms or fish come too close and brush against these, the bladder dilates, pulls in the organism, traps it and eventually digests it.

So if tomotoes and beans or even common houseplants seem a bit too ordinary and tame for your growing tastes, take heart. Certain carnivorous plants can be cultivated indoors. Venus's-Fly traps are the most popular and are available in many garden centres. They are known to be finicky specimens, needing some extra attention, and prefer living in aquariums where their natural growing conditions are simulated. Talking to your local garden expert and doing a little research, either online or at the library, will help you decide if you'd like to try your hand at cultivating a carnivorous plant -- or if you'd rather just stick with your biddable beans, tractable tomatoes or docile daffodils.

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