Carnivorous Plants Sri Lanka
Over the years many species of flora have developed ways to protect themselves; some plants grow sharp thorns that prick while others cause a rash upon brushing up against it. There are some plants however that manage to be much scarier than the rest, plants that eat flesh. These plants capture, kill and digest small animals and insects. They do this because the soil in which they grow is low in nutrients and they must find some other war to supplement their diets. They get their missing nutrients from the insects that they trap. These fragile plants have evolved for many years and have become good hunters. Their leaves are designed differently so that they can lure and trap insects with ease. There are hundreds of carnivore plant species, many of which belong to different plant families.
The Venus flytrap
Dionaea muscipula, also known as the Venus flytrap, is probably the most well known of all the carnivorous plants. Insects are lured into the mouth like leaves by the promise of nectar. As an insect enters the trap, it brushes up against the tiny hair which covers the leaves. This movement sends impulses or messages through the plant that tell the leaves to close tight. The insect is now firmly trapped inside its leaf prison and has no way of escaping. Glands located in the leaves themselves, release enzymes that digest the poor insect. The nutrients are then absorbed by the leaves and sent to the rest of the plant.
Species of plants from the plant family Drosera are called Sundews. These plants are covered with tentacles that produce a sticky dew-like substance that glitters in the sunlight, hence the name Sundew. Many unsuspecting insects are attracted by the shining dew and choose to land on the leaves of the plant. As soon as they land on it, the insects find themselves stuck to the plant. The tentacles then close around the insects and digestive enzymes begin their work – first by breaking down the prey and then by extracting all the nutrients.
Tropical Pitcher plants
Plant species from the plant family Nepenthes are known as Tropical Pitcher plants. The leaves of these plants are brightly coloured and shaped like a pitcher. Insects that see these beautiful, bright colours are lured to the plant in search of nectar. Any hungry insect is met with a nasty surprise however when it discovers it can’t get out of the Pitcher Plant’s pitcher. This is because the internal walls of the leaves are covered with waxy scales that make them very slippery. Insects who perch on the pitcher are very likely to slip and fall to the bottom of the pitcher and before they can do a thing they find themselves drenched in the digestive fluids that the plants secrete.
Species of Utricularia are known as Bladderworts. The name comes from the tiny sacs. Which resemble bladders, which grow on the sterns and leaves of this plant. These plants have a “trapdoor” mechanism for capturing the prey. The sacs have a small membrane cover that acts as a “door”. When tiny insects brush up against the tiny hairs that are located all around the door, they are sucked into the oval-shaped sacs. The door then shuts, trapping the insects inside the sacs. Digestive enzymes are then released into the sacs. These enzymes break down the insect, killing it and absorbing any nutrients it has to offer. Some of these plants such as the swollen bladderwort are aquatic plants. They are free-floating, in the sense that they do not have roots.