Plants are at the bottom of the food chain, right? Interestingly, around 0.2% of flowering plants digest insects and other animals. That is at least 600 species of insectivorous plants!
The ability to digest animals has evolved independently across a variety of plant families. Meaning that the different types of carnivorous plants are unique and original. Making them all the more interesting to learn about.
To discover more about these weird (and fascinating) insectivorous plants, just keep reading!
#1 – Venus Flytrap
When people ask, “what are insectivorous plants?” The simplest response is the Venus Flytrap.
This is one of the common insectivorous plants found in households. Unfortunately, it has become vulnerable in the wild due to over-harvesting.
Tiny hairs on the Venus Flytrap detect when an insect wanders into its ‘jaws’ (leaves). They clamp shut in less than a second, creating an airtight seal to keep bacteria out and digestive fluids in.
Check out this post to learn more about the Venus Flytrap.
#2 – Sundew
One of the more unique types of insectivorous plants is the Sundew. The long hairs protruding from their leaves produce sticky, enzyme-rich secretions that resemble water or nectar droplets. These attract, trap, and digest insects.
#3 – Tropical Pitcher Plant
This intriguing plant uses a vessel-like structure to catch prey. While insects do wander into the smaller plants, the larger ones aim for more substantial prey. Birds, lizards, frogs, and other small creatures will fall victim to these insectivorous plants.
#4 – Yellow Pitcher Plant
This plant, which resembles a tall vial or jug, lures insects with its attractive leaf color. Its leaves secrete a paralyzing agent that stuns insects. Unable to hold on, the insect drops to the bottom of the plant where it is dissolved by the digestive fluids.
#5 – White Trumpet Pitcher Plant
Although similar in shape to the Yellow Pitcher, this plant has a white color on the top of its leaves, and the seasonal sprouting of bright red flowers. The green and red veins of the plant combine with the white color to attract insects.
Once they land on the plant’s lids, they become paralyzed and fall into the trap.
#6 – Floating Bladderwort
These types of insectivorous plants are as strange as their name suggests since they float on the water’s surface. The Bladderwort doesn’t get nutrients from the soil, but rather by catching prey.
When an insect triggers the hairs on one of the plant’s “bladders”, it opens like a trap door and sucks in the nearby water (and insect) in less than a millisecond.
#7 – Sun Pitcher Plant
The Sun Pitcher is a smaller version of the other insectivorous plants using the same pitfall trap method. Slick surfaces cause the insects to fall inside, and downward-facing hairs stop them from escaping digestion.
This plant has a “nectar spoon” above the trap to lure prey.
#8 – Cobra Lily
This fascinating plant lures insects via a foul-smelling odor, attracting them towards the forked appendage that leads inside the plant. Once the insect enters, it quickly becomes lost due to the plant’s internal “fake exits”.
When the insect becomes exhausted, it falls into the trap, where it is digested.
#9 – Purple Pitcher Plant
These purple carnivorous plants are commonly found in nutrient-poor bogs, where they feast on insects and spiders. Using sweet nectar to attract prey into the folds, the waxy coating causes them to slip into a liquid-filled trap.
#10 – Western Australian Pitcher Plant
This plant has traditional leaves as well as trap sections. Red-and-white striped lids prevent rain from filling the traps while also attracting prey. The trap opening contains red rings that produce nectar and limit the escape of trapped insects.
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