What are carnivorous plants?
Carnivorous plants are plants that get nutrients into their bodies by preying on animals. They are distinguishable from other plants because carnivorous plant capture and kill their prey, use mechanisms to facilitate digestion of the prey, as well as they benefit greatly from the nutrients that they are able to gather from their prey. Their diet can include insects, spiders, crustaceans, protozoans, lizards, mice, rats, and more.
They way in which they capture their prey is very interesting. Carnivorous plants have special leaves that can act as traps, for their prey. Some of the other adaptation that they possess to lure their prey, include bright colors and extra-floral nectaries. When a prey gets captured and killed it will then be digested by the plant.One carnivorous plant that had sparked my attention personally was the Nepenthes Pitcher Plant.
Here in this picture you can see the Nepenthes Pitcher Plant ingesting a live frog!
Although the pitcher plant has many adaptations to catch their prey, one of the most important capture mechanism seems to be the pecial surface properties of the pitcher rim also referred to as the peristome. The peristome is regular microstructure with radial ridges of smooth overlapping epidermal cells (Bohn and Federle 2004).These radial ridges are what form a series of steps toward the pitcher inside. When this surface becomes wet by nectar that comes from inside the peristome and from rain water, the surface of the peristome inturn becomes very slippery. The pitcher plants slippery surface is what allows its prey to slip inside and become trapped, where it will then be digested by its fluids (Bohn and Federle 2004).
This video is what initially introduced me to this carnivorous plants species. In the video, a Nepenthes Pitcher Plant is being dissected. As the dissection is occurring you get a chance to see what this plant has actually ingested, which i though was quite fascinating!
The more i seem to learn about these different plants there more i really see that there is so much diversity in the plant world!
Bohn H, Federle W.2004. Insect aquaplaning: Nepenthes pitcher plants capture prey with the peristome, a fully wettable water-lubricated anisotropic surface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.101(39):14138-14143.