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What are Some Insectivorous Plants?

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  • Written By: Michael Anissimov
  • Edited By: R. Kayne
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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Insectivorous plants trap insects and arachnids and digest them for nutrients; an unusual behavior for a plant. Species of insectivorous plants include the Venus flytrap, some varieties of pitcher plants, butterworts, and sundews. These plants often grow in areas where there is little nitrogen in the soil, compensating through the consumption of insects. Some creatures consumed by carnivorous plants include spiders, flies, caterpillars, crickets, and slugs.

The Venus flytrap is the best-known among insectivorous plants, recognized far and wide for its unique appearance and teeth-like spikes. A Venus flytrap, which got its name from the seductive Greek goddess of love, lures insects into its jaws with a sweet nectar. This nectar is a variant of the same nectar that many other plants use to lure bees for assisting in pollination. When the hapless insect makes its way into the jaws of the flytrap, it stimulates delicate trigger hairs, causing the trap to close in less than 100 milliseconds. The Venus flytrap is a rare member of the class of plants with the ability to move rapidly. Its natural habitat are the bogs around the Carolinas, extremely wet, insect-infested areas.

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Less familiar insectivorous plants include the pitcher plant, a plant with pitcher-shaped leaves. The pitcher plant uses sweet aromas to attract insects, which then slip into the pitcher. The inside of the pitcher has hairs pointing downwards, making it impossible for insects to climb back out. At the bottom of the pitcher plant is a pool of water which serves to drown captured insects. The insect is then converted into soluble nutrients through a process of natural decay and the digestive action of enzymes.

A third species of insectivorous plants are the butterworts; star-shaped succulent plants that trap insects with mucus. This is the most common species of carnivorous plant, being found in Asia, Europe, and North America. Individual leaves have the capability of wrapping around trapped prey, suffocating it and speeding the digestive process. The plant continuously excretes mucus beads over its surface, ensuring that any insect unfortunate enough to wander onto it will be trapped.

Insectivorous plants are popular with plant-lovers, being found in plant shops throughout the world. These plants, especially the Venus flytrap, have captured the public imagination. A number of legends exist that speak of larger insectivorous plants, some even capable of eating mammals, though these legends are without evidential basis.

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oopart28
Post 5

Any plant that eats spiders is good by me! I would love to have some Venus flytrap plants, but I hear they are pretty hard to grow. You have to create a habitat that would be like the boggy areas they grow in. That’s too advanced for me.

Venus flytraps have very specific needs when it comes to heat and humidity. I read that the plant can actually live under water for a time! I like plants with fewer requirements.

I wouldn’t want to have to feed the plant, either. It’s great that it eats bugs, but I don’t want to have to provide live ones if there aren’t enough flying around my house. (I’m pretty sure I don’t have very many bugs in here!)

I heard of someone trying to give raw hamburger to a Venus flytrap. Bad idea! This gives the plant ‘indigestion’ and they usually die. I think I will stick to my lucky bamboo.

OhDeDoh
Post 3

@anon5169- The Venus flytrap has been successfully exported to Europe. The plant, however, is native to North and South Carolina.

There have also been what seems to be naturalized populations of Venus flytraps in Florida and New Jersey.

anon5169
Post 1

is the venus flytrap from europe?

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