Carnivorous Plants in Australia

Australia is a lush country well known for its beautiful landscapes and diverse vegetation. In addition to the more common plant varieties, there are also several different types of carnivorous plants indigenous to Australia. Australia is home to both aquatic and land-dwelling carnivorous plants, each of which utilizes a unique system to trap and consume its prey.


There are more than 100 varieties of sundew (Drosera), and more than half of these are native to Australia, according to Wet Tropics. The sundew, which preys on insects, is aptly named for the gel-like coating on the ends of tentacles. This substance glistens in the sun, resembling drops of early morning dew. The plant's sticky tentacles emit a strong scent which attracts prey and the sundew subsequently traps any insect that touches the gel. Small hairs on the plant wrap around the prey and digestive fluids dissolve it entirely. While many cultivars are often found in swamps and bogs, there are numerous varieties, including petiolaris, pygmy, Queensland and tuberous sundew, that are able to tolerate the hotter weather typical of Australian summers, according to the Grow Sundews website. Sundew does not rely on soil for vital nutrients and is able to grow best in consistently moist, nutrient-deficient environments. Sundew is most frequently found along the coasts of Australia.

Autralian Pitcher Plant

The Australian pitcher plant (Cephalotus follicularis), also known as the Albany pitcher plant, which can be found in only one place in the world, grows in the wetlands and streams of southwestern Australia. This plant is named for its small pitcher-shaped traps. These tiny traps are typically between 3 to 6 centimeters in size. The Australian pitcher plant grows low to the ground and uses the smell of nectar to attract insects. The insect enters the pitcher and is then unable to climb out due to the pitcher's slippery inside walls. Once the prey falls into the liquid pool at the bottom of the pitcher, the plant's digestive acids consume the insect, according the website. The Australian pitcher plant tends to grow at a slow rate and does best in consistently moist, sandy soil.

Water Wheel

The water wheel (Aldrovanda vesiculosa) is the most widely dispersed carnivorous plant species. This aquatic plant grows in warm, standing waters, such as swamps and small lakes, in many parts of Australia, as well as Europe, Africa and Asia. Using traps that are similar in function to the venus flytrap, the water wheel feeds on water fleas and other invertebrates and is made up of floating stems with hinged lobes. The inside of the lobes are covered in small hairs that snap shut immediately upon being touched. The rapidity with which this trap closes makes its movement one of the quickest in the animal kingdom, according to the website. The water wheel's digestion process is slow, and it typically takes between two to three days for prey to be fully digested. The water wheel, which grows best in full sun, blooms small white flowers that open for only a few hours each day.

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