Carnivorous Plants

Found growing naturally in acidic, damp soils that are deficient in nutrients, carnivorous plants have evolved special adaptations that enable them to capture and digest insects to supplement their diet. In order to grow, not only does the acidic soil requirement need to be replicated, but the plants require high humidity and full sun. With a little effort, carnivorous plants add excitement to any plant collection.

Thread-leaf Sundew

Drosera filiformis, thread-leaf sundew, can be found growing in wet, marshy areas in the the northern part of Florida.  The leaf is covered with tiny hairs each with a sticky drop of mucilage at the end ready to capture its prey.

Pitcher Plants

There are several Sarracenias species that are native to Florida such as S. Minor, S. purpurea, S. psittacina, and S. rubra.  The funnel shaped leaves trap insects and are digested by enzymes.

Tropical Pitcher Plants

The climbing stems of Nepenthes species produce modified leaves in the shape of a cup. These cups trap and digest insect by enzyme producing glands at the bottom of them.  Ask Dr. Stephenson about this because he has done extensive research with N. ventricosa.

Venus Fly Trap

Probably the most well known because of its fast moving traps, Dionaea muscipula is only found naturally occurring in the world a small area between North and South Carolina. Three trigger hairs are found on each side of the leaf.  When an insect crawls across an open leaf and touches the hairs the leaf quickly snaps shut.

A plant is generally considered carnivorous if it has the following three attributes:
  • The plant must have clear adaptations to capture prey such as a trap.
  • The plant has some way to digest the prey into a form that can be absorbed by the plant.
  • The plant must have a way of absorbing the nutrients, and must benefit from the nutrients.