Welcome to the Original “Little Shop of Horrors!”

 

The case for meat-eaters: if eating meat is a sin, then why are some plants carnivorous?
— Siddharth Katragadda, Author

Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods. However, carnivorous plants generate energy from photosynthesis. Carnivorous plants have adapted to grow in places where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen, such as acidic bogs. Charles Darwin wrote Insectivorous Plants, the first well-known treatise on carnivorous plants, in 1875. Carnivorous plants can be found on all continents except Antarctica, as well as many Pacific islands.

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 utilise rapid leaf movements.
  • Bladder traps suck in prey with a bladder that generates an internal vacuum.
  • Lobster-pot traps, also known as eel 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 flypaper traps whose leaves undergo rapid acid growth, which is an expansion of individual cells as opposed to cell division. The rapid acid growth allows the sundew tentacles to bend, aiding in the retention and digestion of prey.