Carnivorous Plants

These strange plants are found all over the world. Insect eating plants develop and grow in much the same way that other plants develop. They require air, water, and sunshine in order to be healthy. However, they also need certain minerals, especially nitrogen. Most plants get their nitrogen from the soil in which they grow. But insect devouring plants are unable to do this. They grow in warm, marshy places that contains very little nitrogen. In order to survive, these plants make use of the nearest source of nitrogen in their environment; the animal tissue of insects. Through natural adaptation processes, insect eating or "carnivorous" plants have become equipped with ways to lure or attract insects, trap them, and digest them for nourishment! Because the nourishment supplied by insects is so necessary to the life of the plant, meals cannot be left up to chance alone! For this reason, carnivorous plants naturally give off a sweet odor to attract insects. Lured by this odor, insects come to the plant and are trapped by its leaves. The traps vary in kind from plant to plant. For example the Venus Fly trap catches its food in a different way then the Pitcher plant for instance. The major difference between traps is that some have moving parts, and some do not.

Once an insect has been trapped in a plant's lure, it must be turned into useful nourishment. Insect eating plants do not chew their food like you or I do. Instead, the plants digest food in much the same way as food is digested in the human stomach. The leaves of these plants are actually like tiny stomachs! After the leaves trap an insect, they begin to give off digestive juices. The juices first suffocate the insect and gradually dissolve its body. Nitrogen, salts and other minerals from the insect's bodyare absorbed by the plant, enabling it to grow.

In the following pages, you will learn about the various types of insect eating plants,and how they lure, trap and digest their food. Some of the really interesting ones include the Venus Flytrap, the Sundew, Bladderwort, Butterwort, and the Pitcher plant. We hope you find this innovative plants as neat as we do!

Some Other Websites on Carnivorous Plants

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