Information About the Meat-Eating Plants

Overview

Meat-eating plants are commonly known as carnivorous plants. They are plants that extract the majority of their nutrients from trapping and consuming either protozoans or animals. Generally, these are insects and other types of arthropods. Meat-eating plants usually grow in areas with thin soil or soil that lacks sufficient nutrients (particularly nitrogen).

Trapping Methods

There are various common trapping methods in which meat-eating plants retrieve protozoans or animals. Flypaper traps work with the use of mucilage, which is thick and sticky and produced by many plants. Lobster pot trays coerce their pray to make contact with a digestive organ that has pointed hairs. Snap traps work with fast motions of the leaves. Bladder traps suck in animals or protozoans with a bladder that works like a vacuum. Pitfall traps use a rolled-up leaf that consists of a mass of bacteria or digestive enzymes.

Cultivation

In general, meat-eating plants need rainwater or distilled water (which has either been acidified with sulfuric acid or deionized with the help of reverse osmosis). Regular drinking or tap water can destroy carnivorous plants due to their mineral content, which can accumulate. This is helped by the fact that the majority of these plants have grown in acidic soils that lack nutrients.

Venus Flytrap

The Venus flytrap, also known as Dionaea muscipula, is one of the most well-known meat-eating plants due to its many cultural depictions in books and films. It is related to the Sundews, and is in the Droseraceae family. The Venus flytrap originates on a thin strip of coast in North Carolina (near the city of Wilmington). When the Venus flytrap feels triggered by any insect, its leaf blades fold together coming together as one. Stiff hairs near the leaf blade's edge become intertwined together when the folds close, resulting in the trapping of an insect. The leaf's surface has digestive glands that deconstruct the insect's protein, which give the Venus flytrap its nitrogen.

Parasites

Surprisingly, meat-eating plants are prone to infestation by pests, especially mealybugs and aphids. In general, small infestations can be easily eliminated by hand. However, larger situations require use of an insecticide.

Varieties

Some well known-varieties of meat-eating plants include the aforementioned Venus flytrap, the Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica), Pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica), Butterworts (Pinguicula) and Sundews (Drosera).

Keywords: meat eating plants, carnivorous plants, Venus' flytrap

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.