Sarracenia, meat-eating plantsJune 8, 2012 @ 6:59 am (Updated: 8:26 am - 6/8/12 )
(Image courtesy bestcarnivorousplants.com)
Master Gardener Ciscoe Morris has me investigating Sarracenia for this week's garden study.
Sarracenia is the name of a group of plants that, to put it bluntly, eat meat. Lots of animals eat plants but it's rare when plants can turn the tables on the animals. Now, of course, these animals are on the small side - they're insects. But hey, these are plants we're talking about, so that's still pretty impressive.
They're commonly called pitcher plants, because of their distinctive shape. The plant's leaves have evolved into pitcher-shaped funnels.
These funnels are brilliantly designed to trap poor unsuspecting insects. First off, there's a nectar-like secretion on the lip of the funnels that attract the prey. And if that isn't enough, the plants add an allluring scent to the mix to help seal the deal.
Once the insect makes it to the lip, he's a goner, since the lip is super-slippery. He slips and slides to his death, down the funnel of doom. And one enterprising species of pitcher plant actually laces their lip nectar with a narcotic drug, so the insect isn't just slip-sliding away, he's out of his mind as well.
By the way, the plant digests its trapped prey with proteases and other enzymes.
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