How Carnivorous Plants Work

People have heard of carnivorous plants. They eat bugs, so most people get grossed out. However, many people don’t know how they actually do this. Carnivorous plants live in areas where the soil is nutrient-low. Most plants would die in these conditions, but carnivorous plants have adapted to get nutrients in other ways.

There are five main types of carnivorous plants. The first type is the pitcher plant. Pitcher plants have a cup shape with a liquid in the bottom. Nectar attracts bugs, which try to sip from the sweet stuff, but they fall into the liquid, which digests them. This kind of carnivorous plant is the waiting trap kind.

The next plant is the most famous of the bunch, the Venus Fly Trap. This plant has a pair of leaves that resembles an open maw. These leaves have spines along the edge and several hairs on the inside. The plants give off a sweet smell which attracts insects. Contrary to its name, the venus fly trap mostly eats spiders and beetles, not flies. The maw snaps shut once the bug touches two hairs within the trap in quick succession. The reason for this two-hair trigger is so that the trap can tell it is a live being or food and not a falling rock or leaf.

Then the Cobra Lily. The cobra lily earns its name from its snake-like curving posture. The plant draws in insects (mostly flying insects) with a mostly transparent roof. The bugs crawl in, only to be trapped inside and digested. The plant also attracts insects with a sweet smell.

The Sundew is another weirdly shaped carnivorous plant. It has dewdrops that attract insects with their sickly sweet smell, but they are stuck when the bug touches the stuff. When the insect tries to free itself, it will only tire as it continuously fails to flee. When the creature is too exhausted to move, the digestive acids in the dewdrops consume it. This plant has a distinctive red and green coloring that is a clear indication of the plant’s presence

The butterwort is a subtler species, with a simple green coloring and shiny leaves. This plant releases a sticky dew onto its leaves, which attracts thirsty insects. The insects then land on the leaves, only to find themselves glued to the plant.

These many diverse plants that have adapted in unique ways have found a way to survive where others failed. They are amazing.