Carnivorous Plants Roundleaf Sundew


Carnivorous Plants Roundleaf Sundew
Carnivorous Plants
Wetlands, like swamps, bogs and peat marshes, have soil
that is so wet, it is not easy for plants to grow in them. Even
though plants can make their own food, using sunlight and
the process of photosynthesis, they also need soil rich with
minerals to help them grow. Soils in wetlands have their
minerals washed away. Some plants have developed special
adaptations to get the minerals they need. They eat insects
and sometimes even small amphibians and mammals! How does a plant, that has no muscles to move catch its
prey? Carnivorous plants catch their prey in several different ways. Read about three different carnivorous plants
and the three ways they trap their prey.
Roundleaf Sundew
Roundleaf sundews (Drosera rotundifolia L.)
are small, delicate plants that have tiny drops
of sweet, sticky nectar-like goo on the hairs
on the top sides of their leaves. Insects see
the “nectar” glistening in the sun and fly in to
take a taste, but when they land on the leaf,
instead of nectar, they find themselves stuck
in glue. As the insect struggles, it triggers
the sundew leaf to begin to curl up, trapping
the fly inside. Then the sundew digests the
insects and absorbs its nutrients.
©Sheri Amsel
Northern Pitcher Plant
Another carnivorous plants is the northern pitcher plant – Sarracenia purpurea. Found in sphagnum bogs,
this carnivorous plant has a nodding, purplish-red flower on a tall stalk. The flower can grow up to two feet tall
and blooms from June through July. The specially adapted leaves are long, hollow “pitchers” that are green with
purple veins that act like run ways down into the plant which gives off an attractive, sweet smell. Inside, there are
stiff hairs that point downward that let insects walk down, but make walking back out very difficult. The leaves
fill with water which drowns the trapped insects. The plant secretes an acidic enzyme that mixes with the water
and dissolves the insect. It’s nutrients are absorbed by the plant.
©Sheri Amsel
Venus Flytrap
Venus Flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) are found in bogs and other nitrogen-poor environments in North and
South Carolina, though have been introduced in other places. It grows a long flower stem with 5-petaled, white
flowers at the end. They have up to 7 long leaves, each with an adapted “trap” at the end. The “trap” is a hinged,
clamshell-like structure with a smooth, red inside and a hair-like fringe along the edge. The red color inside the
clam-shell attracts insects to land and look for food. There are three stiff trigger hairs inside that, when touched
by an insect, will cause the trap to snap shut. It is then sealed by the fringed edge. The plant secretes an acidic
enzyme that dissolves the insect. It’s nutrients are absorbed by the plant.
©Sheri Amsel
Northern Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia purpurea
Hollow, tubular leaves with bright red lines and a sweet smell
attracts insects inside. Stiff hairs block their escape. Trapped,
they soon tire and fall into the acidic pool at the bottom.
Drosera rotundifolia
Tiny drops of sweet
sticky goo on the hairs
on the top side of their
leaves attract and trap
insects. The leaves
curl up trapping the
©Sheri Amsel
Venus Flytrap
Dionaea muscipula
At the end of each
leaf stalk, a clamshellshaped leaf lays open
with a red inside to
attract insects. They
land inside and trip a
hair trigger that snaps
the clamshell shut and
traps them inside.