South American Carnivorous Plants

When most people think of carnivorous plants they think of the iconic Venus Fly Trap, a carnivorous plant that has become a popular novelty houseplant thanks to its quick-moving trapping mechanism. The Venus Fly Trap, however, is just one of hundreds of species of carnivorous plants, many of which are native to South America. South America is home to dozens of carnivorous plants, some of which can only be found south of the border.

Drosera Meristocaulis

The Drosera meristocaulis is a carnivorous plant that is native only to the Pico da Neblina mountain on the border between Brazil and Venezuela. It is one of 188 known species in the large carnivorous Drosera genus, commonly referred to as sundews. Sundews attract, capture and digest insects using their leaves, which are densely packed with sticky glands. The Drosera meristocaulis has slender red leaves and pink flowers that bloom in December. The plants are found in throughout bogs and swamps in a handful of valleys on the northern side of Pico da Neblina, Brazil's highest mountain.

Genlisea Aurea

The Genlisea aurea is a carnivorous plant native to Brazil, and one of the smallest known flowering plants. The perennial herb boasts small underground leaves (about 15 cm) that attract, trap and digest single-celled microorganisms using digestive enzymes. The plant grows in water-rich sandstone highlands throughout Brazil. When found in its native environment, a healthy plant may produce yellow flowers year-round. The flowers and stems of the Genlisea aurea are coated in sticky glands.


South America is home to several species of carnivorous bromeliads, a plant that shares the same genus as the pineapple. The Brocchinia reducta is a carnivorous plant native to Southern Brazil and Venezuela that grows in nutrient poor soils. The Brocchinia collects water between its leaves, ultimately drowning insects and using enzymes to digest its prey. The plant takes about five years to mature, and produces delicate white flowers. Another carnivorous Bromeliad is the Catopsis berteroniana, a plant that grows on tree branches in Southern Florida and in Southern Brazil.

Keywords: South America, carnivorous plants, plant species

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.