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5 things to know about carnivorous plants

5 things to know about carnivorous plants



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Since their late discovery at the end of the 18th century, carnivorous plants have constantly fascinated humanity. That these plants are able to attract, capture and digest their prey intrigues us and sends us back to our fantasies of man-eating plants. But what do we really know about these unusual plants?

1. There are more than 700 species of carnivorous plants

Botanists estimate that the number of plant species capable of feeding on animals rises to more than 700, but this number continues to evolve as new plants are discovered and others disappear . They are found in different areas of the globe, in all latitudes even if the majority are tropical plants. All of them had to contend with a lack of food in soil that was too poor or too acidic. To supplement their needs not covered by photosynthesis, they have therefore adapted by going to look for nitrogen and phosphorus elsewhere than in the soil. The tremendous adaptability of the living…

The slender silhouette of the sarracenia…

2. The traps of carnivorous plants are very diverse

If the famous flycatcher is the most spectacular with its jaws which close on its prey visibly, not all carnivores have such an impressive trap. Among the so-called "active" modes of capture, there are also the sticky leaves and hairs which wrap around the insects and gobble them gently but surely (like the terrible drosera burmanni) and the goat leaves which "suck "aquatic zooplankton (like the terrible utricular). The other carnivores are content with passive traps, less surprising but just as effective. Some drown their prey in secreted liquid between their leaves, others swallow them up or trap them in urns or traps. A real nightmare of midges.

The flycatcher's jaws close on an insect in seconds.

3. Carnivorous plants are easy to grow

All over the world, collectors of carnivorous plants are passionate about these plants which have shown such inventiveness to hunt insects, larvae or protozoa without moving their roots by a millimeter. Fans of Marsupilami, Blake and Mortimer and Harry Potter have all developed a rich imagination about these meat eaters and are delighted to grow them at home. And that's good, since most, including the dreaded Venus flytrap, are very easy to maintain. Accustomed to poor soils, carnivorous plants need a specific substrate very poor in nutrients and a fairly deep pot. Perfectly suited for growing in apartments, they like mild and cooler climates in winter, which also makes it possible to grow them on a veranda. If they should never be fertilized, carnivorous plants nevertheless need a lot of water and require regular watering with demineralized water or rainwater. Some varieties require high humidity and also need to be sprayed regularly. In all cases, the carnivorous plants are autonomous and do not need to be fed with insects!

The heliamphora and its neon green plant scrolls.

4. Carnivorous plants are extremely decorative

By dint of focusing on their remarkable skills, we would end up forgetting that these Diane huntresses are also sumptuous plants with extraordinarily graphic curves and very decorative colors. So let's forget their incongruous food menu a bit and look at them as decorative plants of rare originality. Let us rediscover the haughty port of sarracenia, the two-tone hues of heliamphora, the captivating forms of sundew, the delicate pink flowers of stylidium and those very graceful of the uterus ... Even vegetarians marvel at their singular beauty!

The marbled colors of the sarracenia command admiration.

5. Carnivorous plants are threatened

Like many plant species, many carnivorous plants are critically endangered. Victims of the destruction of their natural environment, they also suffer the assaults of looters and the disruption of ecosystems. As with all species, these disappearances would be catastrophic for the future of biodiversity. But to become aware of the extraordinary talent for adaptation of these species and their fabulous ability to participate in the whole of a complex ecosystem is also to become aware of all that they still have to teach us about the vegetal apogy. So, shall we adopt them?

A sundew or an alien?