feed me title.jpg


Carnivory in plants is a relatively rare phenomenon—there are believed to be a little more than 600 species with such a characteristics (Moran & Clarke, 2010). The over-arching factor that connects this select demographic is, as the name insinuates, that they derive their key nutrients from mainly arthropods which they attract, trap, and digest via the use specialized leaves (Bonhomme, Pelloux-Prayer, Jousselin, Forterre, Labat, & Gaume, 2011).

Carnivorous plants adapted so that could survive in habitats that have an abundant supply of water and light, however a poor supply of nutrients. Therefore, the only way for the species to thrive is to develop traps to, in particular, obtain nitrogen from the environment—the cost of producing traps does not exceed the benefits of trapping prey (Pavlovič, Masarovičová, & Hudák, 2007).



Types of traps utilized by carnivorous plants:

Pitfall: The trap featured in the pitcher plant, which consists of a folded leaf that forms a deep basin filled with digestive enzymes. The genera of Nepenthaceae and Sarraceniaceae are the best-known and largest groups of pitcher plants. Examples of Species that use this mechanism is the Nepenthes Rajah and the Darlingtonia Californica.

Nepenthes Rajah
Nepenthes Rajah
Darlingtonia Californica
Darlingtonia Californica



Flypaper: These traps are characterized by their adhesive nature, as they consist of leaves covered in stalked glands that exude a sticky mucus. The most common species that utilizes this method of carnivory are the Drosera Capensis, colloquially referred to as the sundew, and the butterworts.

Drosera Capensis
Drosera Capensis

Snap traps (or steel traps): These traps consist of hinged leaves that snap shut when sensitive trigger hairs are activated. The two most common species that utilize this mechanism are some of the most storied of the carnivorous plants—the Venus Flytrap and the Water wheel.

Water wheel
Water wheel
Venus Flytrap
Venus Flytrap















Suction traps: These traps are unique to bladderworts, and consist of highly modified leaves in the shape of a bladder. The prey enters the bladder through a hinged door that is lined with trigger hairs.

Lobster-pot traps: These traps are found in corkscrew shaped plants, and consist of a twisted, tubular channel lined with hairs and glands.

(Botanical Society of America)



Works Cited

Bonhomme, V., Pelloux-Prayer, H., Jousselin, E., Forterre, Y., Labat, J.-J., & Gaume, L. (2011). Slippery or sticky? Functional diversity in the trapping strategy of Nepenthes carnivorous plants. New Phytologist (191), 545–554.
Botanical Society of America. (n.d.). Carnivorous Plants / Insectivorous Plants. Retrieved April 13, 2013, from Botanical Society of America: http://www.botany.org/carnivorous_plants/
Moran, J. A., & Clarke, C. M. (2010). The carnivorous syndrome in Nepenthes pitcher plants: Current state of knowledge and potential future directions. Plant Signaling & Behavior , 5 (6), 644-648.
Pavlovič, A., Masarovičová, E., & Hudák, J. (2007). Carnivorous Syndrome in Asian Pitcher Plants of the Genus Nepenthes. Annals of Botony , 100 (3), 527–536.