Carnivorous plants are predatory plants that trap, kill and digest their prey. Most carnivorous plants feed on insects, though some are large enough to digest small amphibians. These plants are generally found in thin soil that is poor in nutrients. They thrive best in habitats that are sunny, warm and constantly moist.
The bladderwort is a floating, carnivorous plant that lives in shallow, freestanding water. The plant gets its name from its airtight bladder. When the opening to the bladder is shut, water is pumped out, which creates a vacuum. When the bladder springs open, water and food rushes in. Mosquitoes are the primary food source for the bladderwort. The flowers are 1 to 5 inches in width and are purple or yellow.
The pitcher plant catches its prey with a deep, liquid-filled cavern called a pitfall trap. Insects are lured into the pitchers by nectar. The sides are slippery and contain grooves, which make it hard for the insect to climb out. The nectar eventually drowns the insect and dissolves it as food for the plant. The pitcher plant grows to 24 inches tall and has bright red flowers with a sweet smell.
The sundew plant blooms from May to August and grows to a height of around 12 inches. The flowers range from white to scarlet and can grow up to 8 inches in diameter. Sundews catch their prey in a rosette of leaves located below the blooms. Each leaf has crimson filaments that attract insects. The filaments contain a sticky liquid that traps the insect. Once the insect is trapped, the filament will roll up and dissolve the insect. It takes approximately six days for an insect to dissolve and the filament to reopen. Each filament dies after two to four trappings.
The Venus flytrap grows to approximately 6 to 12 inches tall with white flowers that bloom in June. The trap structure of the Venus flytrap looks like two leaves connected at the bottom. The top portion is open and has filaments. The inner portion of the trap is covered with tiny hairs that trigger the trap to shut when an insect moves across. It takes five to 14 days for digestion to be completed and the trap to reopen. The traps will die after three or four trappings, and new ones will grow in its place.
Butterworts tend to grow together in groups, and their leaves form large rosettes. These rosettes have very sticky leaves with tiny tentacles that digest prey. Once an insect lands on the leaves, it becomes trapped in the nectar. The more the insect struggles, the more nectar is produce until it completely covers the insect. The butterwort blooms in early spring and produces yellow, pink, purple or white flowers.