Carnivorous Plants Of The World.

By: Susan Sportman

When we hear the word 'carnivorous', the first thing that often comes to our mind are animals, but how about plants? We sometimes watch films depicting a certain plant swallowing up a human being or an animal, and there is somewhat a tinge of reality to that than just fiction. There are actually plants that eat flesh and blood. The plant must attract, catch, kill and take in its prey for it to be classified as a carnivorous plant.

Venus flytraps are often seen on marshlands. This carnivorous plant captures its prey by means of a trap formed by each part of its leaves. The operation of the trap is rather intricate and it involves the interface among tension, elasticity and growth factors. When the trap is open, its two spiny lobes are bent outwards while the lobes are bent inwards when in closed position. The trap is triggered by means of hair contact and will close fully only when multiple contact of hairs are initiated. This prevents the trap from closing accidentally due to other things like rain or debris. The movements of the prey inside the trap will further induce a growth reaction that compels the edges of the lobes to contract and seal the trap. This process will go on gradually for a few hours until the trap is crushed and the prey along with it. The prey will be digested within 10 days.

Sundews have more than 170 species and they can be found all over the world except in Antarctica. They are often seen in swamps and shrub lands. The leaves have responsive tentacles with a sticky fluid that attracts insects. The liquid is sweet and if an insect lands on the leaves and gets in contact with the tentacles, it will get stuck. The insect's movements while trying to escape will trigger the tentacles to move toward the insect. The tentacles will then cover and immobilize the insect. The prey will die either through strangulation or exhaustion. Digestive juices will then be secreted by the tentacles and within 2 days the prey is totally consumed.

Bladderworts embody the largest species of carnivorous plants counted at more than 200. Their traps resemble a bladder that can be 5 mm in length and able to capture a wide range of insects and even small fishes. This plant produces a liquid that are rich in sugar which attracts the prey and also reinforce the trapdoor. Its trap is somewhat complex as it uses the external pressure of water to keep the trapdoor shut. Once a prey touches the triggering hairs, the trapdoor opens up due to the difference in water pressure and the bladder swallows the prey together with some water along its surrounding. The trapdoor will close once the bladder is filled with water and the prey will be consumed in a matter of 3 days.

Butterworts live in wet environments. Their leaves consist of special cells that generate a sticky substance which appears like droplets of water across the leaf. Insects searching for water are likely to get attracted to this invitation and when that happens, stalks of the butterwort will release an added amount of mucilage from its extra reservoir cells. The struggle of the insect will further trigger other stalks to release more mucilage, and the prey will then be trapped and eventually consumed.

Waterweel plants live in the water and they can usually be found in Asia, Europe and Africa. Their traps are organized like a vortex over a floating stem. These traps comprises of 2 lobes which collapse together much like a snapping trap device. The traps are twisted and always pointing outwards. Inside them are fine coat of hairs which acts as a triggering mechanism when something comes in contact with the plant. The traps are surrounded by long spikes with the purpose of preventing accidental triggering of the trap by debris. The traps can close in a matter of 0.02 seconds, one of the fastest of its kind.

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