Carnivorous Plants of South America

South America is a vast continent with a varying amount of flora and fauna. With varying climates ranging from desert to tropical, the plant life on the continent includes plenty of exotic species. Carnivorous plants are some of the most interesting exotic flora in South America, coming in a variety of shapes, sizes and environments.

Brocchinia Reducta

Like other bromeliad plants, brocchinia reducta produces tall, spiked leaves that form a water receptacle in the center of the foliage. The brocchinia reducta plant is related to the pineapple, but in no way is it edible. It's a carnivorous plant that stores a highly acidic concoction in its water receptacle to trap and digest insects. Native to Guyana and southern Venezuela, brocchinia reducta is a South American plant that thrives in poor-quality soil and requires very little maintenance. The sustenance it receives from insects provide the plant with the needed nutrition required for its survival. Start plants can be obtained from specialized merchants and nurseries to be transplanted into sandy soil enriched with peat moss. As an outdoor plant they are best planted near a natural source of insects, but must be fed at least once a month if kept as an indoor plant.

Genlisea Aurea

The largest carnivorous plant in the genlisea family, genlisea aurea is a perennial herb that resembles a sort of ground cover. It's endemic to Brazil where it grows in marshlands and boggy areas, although it is a terrestrial plant. It produces several small yellow blossoms that are covered in a sticky goo that trap insects to be digested by the plant. Growing it requires humus-rich and constantly moist soil conditions, making it an ideal ditch plant, or a ground cover when grown near a pond or other constant water source. It's a wonderful plant to grow near water that is prone to mosquitoes as it will feed off the mosquito larvae and adults.

Passiflora Foetida

Named for the odor that emits from the plant's bruised foliage, passiflora foetida, or fetid passionflower is a vining plant found in tropical South America with carnivorous tendencies. Although no carnivorous activity has been witnessed, these attractive flowering plants have been discovered to contain sacks full of digestive enzymes within their stems and flower hips. The digestive enzymes are one of the key traits that all carnivorous plants share, which are used to break down insect materials during consumption. The fetid passion flower's stems are thin, wiry and covered in sticky hairs that are believed by botanists to trap insects when in need of nutrition. According to the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, studies indicate that upon dissection, insects such as ants and mosquitoes have been found within the digestive sacks of the fetid passionflower. Growing conditions for the fetid passionflower require humus-rich soil with plenty of compost for fertilization. The plant can tolerate both partial and full sunlight and can be propagated via seed or branch cuttings.

Keywords: carnivorous plants, South American carnivorous plants, passion flower

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Chelsea Hoffman is a professional freelance writer with works published both on the Web and in print. She currently resides in Las Vegas. The author of the new series of horror novellas, titled "Fear Chronicles," Hoffman's work can also be found on environmental websites like Dobegreen.com, where she helps spread environmental awareness with her mighty pen.