Carnivorous Trumpet Plant

Overview

More commonly referred to as pitcher plants, carnivorous trumpet plants comprise many varieties. They all share reliance on nutrients derived from invertebrates and sometimes small mammals. This allows them to survive in poor soil and climate conditions. Pitcher plants are spread throughout the entire planet in a wide range of climates.

Types

Two common families of pitcher plant include Nepenthes and Sarraceniaceae. Nepenthes such as the nepenthes eymae variety, grow on vining plants that climb along trees, shrubs and structures. The pitcher, or trumpet-like, flowers of the nepenthe variety come in two forms. Upper pitchers and lower pitchers. The lower pitchers often sit at the ground, or near it, and are large compared to the upper pitchers. Sarraceciaceae, or saracenia, pitcher plants are often low-growing ground climbing plants. They ordinarily produce fronds that sprout into several small pitcher, or trumpet-like, flowers. Both types of pitcher plant thrive on invertebrates; although some ingest full grown forest rats and mice.

Geography

Different varieties of pitcher plant thrive throughout several parts of the world. For example, the tropical corpse flower thrives in rain forest climates, as well as subtropical. It's naturally found in the Amazon, although cultivators and nursery owners have introduced it to the Southeast United States--as with other carnivorous plant types. Other types of pitcher plant, such as the cobra lily, thrive in areas in the U.S. States like California, Washington, Oregon and parts of New England have natural patches of these carnivorous trumpet plants.

Environment

Carnivorous trumpet plants, as with all carnivorous flora, thrive in poor soil and environmental conditions. Research conducted for several years, by Charles Darwin, revealed that the plants' evolutionary processes allowed them to extract needed nourishment from living prey as opposed to soil. This allows them to thrive in marshy areas where other nonaquatic plants would otherwise get root-rot. They also thrive in acidic and clay soils in prairies, and in the darkest wooded forest areas.

Feeding Habits

Pitcher plants contain a digestive watery enzyme within the reservoir of the pitcher part of the flower. This enzyme often emits a smell of decaying organic material to attract insects, spiders and small mammals. The insect, or small mammal, climbs into the mouth of the pitcher willingly, following the appetizing smell. The trap door closes on the pitcher and the insects or small mammals drown in the fluids. From here, the carnivorous trumpet plant slowly digests the insect or small mammal within the digestive fluid in the plant.

Uses and Benefits

Although carnivorous plants slowly digest bugs and small mammals, they pose a variety of uses outside of nature. Some varieties of pitcher plant can be eaten, such as the extra large varieties of nepenthes. The pitcher, or trumpet, is scrubbed clean several times and then it is steamed with rice and vegetables stuffed within it. The carnivorous trumpet plants also serve as water receptacles in tribal areas in the Amazon region.

Keywords: carnivorous plants, pitcher plant, carnivorous trumpet plant

About this Author

Chelsea Hoffman resides in Las Vegas, Nev., where she is currently working on a dramatic novel titled "Chloe." A published freelance writer for over 15 years, Hoffman writes for GardenGuides, Travels, and a variety of other online and print venues.