Largest Carnivorous Plants

Man-eating plants are the stuff of legendary tales from explorers gone by or grade B sci-fi movies. However, there are true carnivorous plants in the world, some of which grow to substantial size, some capable of capturing small animals. Others, while less prolific hunters, are nonetheless worthy of note for the sheer size of the plant, rather than the trap.

The Largest Trap

The Nepenthes family of carnivorous plants have, by far, the largest traps. They are pitcher plants with suspended, hanging, modified leaves in the shape of a bottle or pitcher. Each leaf is lined with tiny hairs that point inward. The surface of the leaf is also coated with a slippery, waxy substance. Insects that are attracted to the leaf are drawn in, then fall to their deaths in a pool of liquid in the bottom of the leaf, where they are digested. The largest of the Nepenthes, the Rajah pitcher plant, has a pitcher leaf that can reach over 1 foot in size and can actually capture frogs and--on rare occasions--small birds and rodents.

Longest Trap

Roridula gorgonias is a South African carnivorous plant that has the distinction of growing the longest trap of any species. The plant can grow over 2 meters tall, and the stems and leaves over the entire plant are covered in hairs that hold drops of sticky resin, making on big trap. The leaves do not have digestive enzymes, however. Specialized, predatory insects that will not stick to the resins patrol the plant and attack anything that gets trapped, feeding on it. These predatory bugs then defecate. The feces are rich in nitrogen, which helps to fertilize the plant.

Largest Carnivorous Plant

Triphyophyllum peltatum does not have the largest or even the most interesting of traps in the world of carnivorous plants. The plant produces a simple rosette of leaves on the ground in its first stage of life. In the second stage, the plant will occasionally produce tiny leaves that are not much more than stems with glands that cover it and produce sticky mucilage and digestive enzymes that break down captured prey. Neither of these traits are particularly noteworthy, as far as size is concerned. However, in the third stage of its growth, the Triphyophyllum peltatum produces a vine that can grow to be up to 70 meters long, making it the largest carnivorous plant in the world, technically speaking.

Keywords: largest carnivorous plants, biggest carnivorous plant, largest insect eating plant

About this Author

Located in Jacksonville, Fla, Frank Whittemore has been a writer and content strategist for over 15 years, providing corporate communications services to Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics that stem from his fascination with nature, the environment, science, medicine and technology.