Everyone knows the Venus flytrap as the classic example of carnivorous plants, but there are about 600 species (14 genera) of plants around the world that consume insects, frogs and other amphibians, reptiles and small fish, arachnids and occasionally , baby rodents and tiny birds.
Most carnivorous plants growing in marshy places with acidic soil and poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen.
Approaches using carnivorous plants to capture their prey include leghold traps (Dionaea muscipula), sticky hairs (Byblis, Drosera, Drosophyllum, Pinguicula), urns with lids (Cephalotus, Nepenthes), bladders suction (Utricularias) and cones ( darlingtonia, Heliamphora, Sarracenia).
Unfortunately, the public’s fascination with carnivorous plants has resulted in the immoderate collection of wild plants, leaving several endangered plant species.
This insectivorous plant captures its prey in a fascinating way. Leaves sarracenia have evolved to form a enbudo or cornet, with enzymes in the background to digest the prey captured. A hood protects the cornet and prevents fill with water when it rains. Cornet shore is covered with nectar to attract insects and it is slippery, causing the fall prey inside.
The pitcher plants grow in the eastern region of the United States and one species (S. purpurea) extends to Canada.
There are over 150 species of sundew scattered in all continents except Antarctica.
Also known as “sundew”, the sundews capture their prey using tentacles with drops of sweet mucilage covering the leaves and shine like morning dew when you’re stuck sunlight. Its leaves grow in a rosette.
Insects approach the tentacles of the sundew waiting for a treat of sweet nectar and just stuck and trapped.
Darwin grown sundews, are conducting experiments that helped form his Theory of Evolution: wrote at least 285 leaves on sun dews.
Among the carnivorous plants, grasillas are relatively easy to grow. Seem succulents with fleshy leaves in rosette, covered with a thin, sticky hair is actually a set of small tentacles trap prey. Butter cabbage can be grown to control pests and parasites diminutive size. It blooms once or twice a year, giving a violet-like white, pink, blue or purple flower.
There are about 80 species of Pinguicula distributed in the northern hemisphere and the Andean regions of the southern hemisphere, with a concentration of species diversity in Central America, its most likely source. The grasillas are very well adapted to the varied weather conditions: have the ability to lose all its leaves and survive the dry seasons as a “bulb” underground called yolk, and to survive cold weather may lose their leaves leaving only a cocoon in the middle called the Orangery.
Around 220 species of Utricularia are found throughout the drier areas less world. Many species of cabbage bladders are aquatic, while others grow in wet soils.
Bladders cabbage is the only type of carnivorous plant that uses the “suction bladders” to catch their prey. These round traps are extremely small (0.2 mm – 1.2 cm) and generally entrap microorganisms, Daphnia (water flea), mosquito larvae or, in the case of the largest traps, tadpoles.
Suction bladder is shaped like a balloon or bladder, with a trapdoor. The bladder has a pumping mechanism that is constantly water pumping water out through the walls of the bladder by active transport, and suctioning the bladder walls inward creating a vacuum. The opening of the bladder is covered with tiny “hairs” that act as levers: when the prey touches a hair, moving it breaks the seal, opening the bladder and sucking the dam inward of the bladder with an incredible speed: the bladders cabbage opens, swallows the prey and reclosed at 0.0001 of a second!
This carnivorous plant looks like an alien hybrid between an ocotillo and a fern, with the perfect tools for capturing all kinds of insects. The genus has a single species Drosophyllum (drosophyllum) and is found only in the mountainous regions of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. It is resistant to semi arid climate of this part of the world and is so efficient in hunting insects is common to see their bodies completely covered with leaves.
The nepenthes are true carníveros, not only catch insects, but larger species can trap and digest larger animals such as frogs, lizards, snakes, mice and small birds. They grow as vine (climbing habit) or near the ground (prostrate habit). Urn-shaped, usually with a lid. At the bottom of the urn, the plant secretes a sticky substance that traps and digests the prey.
The tops of monkeys catch their prey pulling her with attractive colors and scents. The dam enters the urn for something tasty, but once inside starts to slip due to the waxy surface having the inside of the cup, eventually falling into the liquid is at the bottom. The enzymes contained in the liquid digest the prey quickly, making it a nutritious soup that feeds the plant.
Perhaps the most interesting detail of the monkey cups is that they keep a fairly diverse ecological community within this liquid. Crabs, spiders, ants, bacteria and other organisms coexist perfectly with the nepenthes, taking advantage of undigested remains of the prey captured by the plant. It is possible that these organisms have a symbiotic relationship with the plant.
There are over 90 species of Nepenthes distributed by the tropical rainforests of Asia, Australia and Madagascar.
Darwin described the Venus flytrap as one of the most wonderful plants in the world, and rightly so. Not only eats insects and small animals such as frogs, but actively catches, closing its “jaws” (which are actually leaves) so that their prey can not escape. It is one of two carnivorous plants that use a trap to capture their food, and it does so very efficiently: inside the trap has hairs and dam must touch the hair twice followed to close.
The Aldrovanda is an aquatic carnivorous plant that captures its prey by small like those of the Venus flytrap traps. Aldrovanda vesiculosa is the only species of its kind still in existence, other species (about 50) are already extinct.
This fascinating plant tiny fleet through small air bladders. Its pinwheel shape leads gently rolling with the flow, and hairs inside the stocks detect when a small invertebrate (their main prey) is within reach.
Aldrovanda vesiculosa is native to the Old World and is transported by migratory birds found in ponds and freshwater lakes and slightly acidic in Asia, Australia and Africa, mostly on the migration routes of birds.
The common name of this insectivorous plant (plant rainbow) as well as the Latin name (Byblis) comes from the sticky drops that shine with all the colors of the rainbow when the sun hits them. There are five species of the genus Byblis, are native to Australia and grow in sandy soils. Dan abundant flowers and trap insects with sticky hairs.
This small plant is attractive and is popular with those who grow carnivorous plants. There are about 25 known species that grow naturally in South America, specifically Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. It is located in the swamps, sometimes almost completely covered with water, and although smaller species are more common (especially in captivity), there are also some species Heliamphora reaching more than a meter high.
The genus name is from the Greek “Helos” (marsh) and “amphoreus” (amphora), however the common name comes from the Greek root misinterpreting “helia-“, mistaking the word “helios” meaning “sun “. From there they started calling sun launchers.