Plants have evolved to express differences that are necessary to their survival. Some have developed bright colors or sweet scents to attract their pollinators while others produce a toxic sap as a defensive strategy. One of the most interesting adaptations is the insectivorous or carnivorous traits. These plants have developed a way of luring in their nutritional needs, killing and using the useful compounds. Carnivorous plants are found around the world with a number indigenous to Japan.
Japan's Ecology and Climate
Japan experiences four distinct seasons. The climate is very much like the North American West. The south of Japan is more tropical while the northern zones are temperate and cool. The geography is diverse, where arid plains and snowy mountains commingle in one country. This diversity of environment increases the vast array of flora and fauna which flourish in the country.
Types Unique to Japan
Aldrovanda is an aquatic plant with no roots. It uses photosynthesis to produce plant sugars but must glean its other nutritional needs in other ways. The plant has leaves very much like a Venus flytrap with teeth along the edges. The plant used to grow wild in Japan's waterways but pollution has eradicated it. Reintroduction is taking place, and the lakes and streams where it once grew wild are being detoxified. Pinguicula ramosa is native to Japan, and its leaves are shaped in little rosettes with the trap in the center. This species also is in danger due to pollutants.
Drosera is found in almost all areas of the world. It is extremely common and easy to grow. The plant includes the sundews, and there are seven different species of it found in Japan. The leaves of this plant sprout cilia covered with a glistening sap. The sap is supposed to mimic morning dew and lure the insect in for a drink. The insect is stuck fast to the sap and the plant releases digestive compounds to finish off the bug. Utricularia is commonly found internationally and in Japan it is plentiful in the monsoon seasons of June and July.
A common misconception of carnivorous plants is their toxicity. While the plants may be toxic to the insects that they prey upon, the compounds they carry are not generally poisonous to humans. The plants are able to survive on little to no nutrition with an exceptional lack of nitrogen. The small amount of sap or poisonous compounds they secrete is barely enough to kill their prey and poses no harm to humans.
Growing carnivorous plants is not difficult provided you can mimic their natural conditions. Most carnivorous plants are aquatic and need lots of sunlight. Placing the plant in a terrarium allows the grower to control moisture and introduce prey. The container should be near a southern window or a grow light can be used. If the plant is aquatic use distilled water. If the plant needs a rooting medium place in a mixture of peat sphagnum and perlite.