Friday, April 18, 2008

Carnivorous Plants.

When my brother and I were young we used to buy little potted Venus Fly Traps from Wal-Mart. We would catch flies and spiders with tweezers and feed the plant.

I'm sure we would have gotten a jungle if we could have!

I've wanted to buy a plant for a while now and have been checking out hanging plants in stores around my neighborhood. The other day i stopped in at the new and beautiful garden store on 14th and church.
That's when i started looking into the Pitcher plant.

Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap. Carnivorous plants (sometimes called insectivorous plants) are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients (but not energy) from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods. Carnivorous plants appear adapted to grow in places where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen, such as acidic bogs and rock outcroppings. Charles Darwin wrote the first well-known treatise on carnivorous plants in 1875.

True carnivory is thought to have evolved in at least 10 separate lineages of plants, and these are now represented by more than a dozen genera in 5 families. These include about 625 species that attract and trap prey, produce digestive enzymes, and absorb the resulting available nutrients.

Five basic trapping mechanisms are found in carnivorous plants.

-Pitfall traps (pitcher plants) trap prey in a rolled leaf that contains a pool of digestive enzymes or bacteria.
-Flypaper traps use a sticky mucilage.
-Snap traps utilize rapid leaf movements.
-Bladder traps suck in prey with a bladder that generates an internal vacuum.
-Lobster-pot traps force prey to move towards a digestive organ with inward pointing hairs.

These traps may be active or passive, depending on whether movement aids the capture of prey. For example, Triphyophyllum is a passive flypaper that secretes mucilage, but whose leaves do not grow or move in response to prey capture. Meanwhile, sundews are active flypapers whose leaves undergo rapid growth, aiding in the retention and digestion of prey.

My new Pitcher plant.

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