Plants that eat meat? No way, that’s impossible! People eat meat, and animals eat meat. Not plants! It just can’t be true. Have you ever heard of a plant that actually eats meat? I have. It is true, some really do!
These unusual meat-eating plants are called by two different names: carnivorous plants, and insectivorous plants. The first name, carnivorous, means like a carnivore, or a meat eater. The other, insectivorous, is almost the same. It means insect eater.
All carnivorous and insectivorous plants have leaves that are especially grown for capturing and digesting insects. Sometimes the bigger plants even attract small animals! This is how they get the nutrition that they need to grow and stay healthy.
There are many different types of carnivorous and insectivorous plants. Some of them are disguised as delicate, beautifully colored flowers such as the water lily. The water lily is usually white or purple and lives on the surface of small lakes and ponds. It has a bright-yellow center of pollen and sweet nectar that attracts insects. When an insect lands on the center of this flower to eat the sweet nectar and pollen, the petals of the flower snap shut trapping it.
Carnivorous plants grow in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are large and look like trees. Other times they are very small, looking like a typical houseplant.
The Venus Fly trap is probably among the most well known of the carnivorous plants. This plant has glands that produce sweet nectar that is inviting to insects. When a fly or any other bug lands to eat this nectar, it brushes up against small hairs on the plants leaves. This triggers the Venus Flytraps’ fierce red and green jaw-like leaves to snap shut. Tooth-like spines keep the insect trapped. This cage acts as a stomach. It produces acid like fluids that digest this plants prey. Within a few days all that remains of the insect is a
Another type of carnivorous plant is the Pitcher plant. It has long, hollow leaves that form a tube. These leaves are filled with digestive fluids that drown and digest the insects it captures. There are sixteen species of this plant. They are all found in either North or South America. The Pitcher plant grows mostly in the jungle, like a climbing vine. This plant lives mostly off of cockroaches, centipedes, and scorpions. Larger plants have been even been known to eat rats, and other small animals.
So, the next time you see an insect eating the leaves of a plant, remember that sometimes it is the plant that eats the insect!