6 Magnificent Carnivorous Plants
Herein we present to you our choice of 6 Magnificent Carnivorous Plants. Certainly, these represent only a tiny fraction of the roughly 1,000 known varieties of plants that supplement energy from the soil and sun with that derived from the consumption of flesh, to be sure. Yet we hope that this short list whets your appetite for more. Some of these may surprise you, as well. Read on and see.
Cobra Lily Facts
- The highly descriptive term Cobra Lily serves as the image-creating common name for a rather unique variety of carnivorous plant.
- Despite being considered rather uncommon in the wild, and having a highly limited and specific habitat range, the IUCN lists it as a species of Least Concern.
- Quite understandably, the common name derives from the strong resemblance of the leaves of the plant to a cobra preparing to strike.
- Rather mysteriously, the precise method of pollination of this species in the wild still remains completely unknown to researchers.
Cobra Lily Physical Description
The rather astonishing Cobra Lily ranks as a moderate-sized variety of carnivorous plant. It can also attain a height of about 33 in (85 cm), though most individuals remain smaller.
Several stalkless, hollow leaves develop, and grow to the same approximate length as the single flower that the plant produces atop a relatively thick stalk.
The leaves themselves also appear a rather light green in color while being streaked with numerous blood-red vein-like features which further add to the eerie appearance of the plant.
Further enhancing the resemblance to its namesake, the remarkable leaves also display a purplish-red appendage at the tip, resembling the forked tongue of a snake.
Species: D. californica
Cobra Lily Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Sadly, the rather amazing Cobra Lily possesses an extremely limited range of habitation. It only grows in the wild in certain portions of California and Oregon, in the United States, in North America.
Even more specific, however, is the habitat requirement of the species. It also only grows in seeps and bogs with cold running water and highly nutrient-poor soils.
As with other, related species, it also augments its limited ability to draw nourishment from the soil by gaining nourishment from insects it traps and digests.
However, it differs from all other pitcher plants in the Americas in one respect. It does not trap rainwater in its pitcher but instead draws it from its roots.
Purple Pitcher Plant
Purple Pitcher Plant Facts
- The next species we present among these 6 Magnificent Carnivorous Plants is the highly colorful species known appropriately as the Purple Pitcher Plant.
- First of all, the slightly tongue-twisting term for this species serves as the common name for a remarkable variety of carnivorous plant. However, the scientific name of the species, Sarracenia purpurea, is nearly as hard to pronounce.
- Further, this legitimately astounding variety of flora also goes by several alternate common names. These different terms include such colorful choices as the northern pitcher plant, the side-saddle flower, or the comical term of the turtle-socks.
- Regardless of which name one uses to refer to it, the plant remains a most fascinating species. Quite remarkably, its original recognition also occurred long ago. The Quebec surgeon, Michael Sarrazin, made that initial scientific description in the year 1601.
- Furthermore, its discovery and recognition also instigated the formation of an entirely new Family, named Sarraceniaceae. For the moment, however, the population base of this fascinating variety of carnivorous flora appears to be relatively stable.
- This holds true throughout the entirety of its native range. Therefore, the IUCN does not currently have a listing for it on its Red List. Nevertheless, the magnificent Purple Pitcher Plant could find itself at some potential risk in the near future.
- For one thing, habitat represents a growing risk, as humans continue to expand into its habitat. But, the greatest risk to the continued existence of this fascinating plant most likely comes from the ongoing effects of climate change.
Purple Pitcher Plant Physical Description
Although the aptly-named Purple Pitcher Plant certainly merits fascination, it does not do so based on physical size. That holds true due to the simple fact that this particular Angiosperms only qualifies as an average-sized form of carnivorous plant.
However, it certainly has other aspects of its physiology to respect and admire. In this, it demonstrates the fact that size remains irrelevant to impressiveness. Firstly, specimens of the stunning Purple Pitcher Plant attain an average height of 7.9 – 15.8 in (20 – 40 cm).
Secondly, the plant produces a single flower at the top of that tall, thin stem. This appears as a flattened ring, with dark maroon-colored petals. The remarkable leaves of the plant, often tinged with purple themselves, attain an average length of roughly 11.8 in (30 cm).
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Tracheophytes
- Class: Angiosperms
- Order: Eudicots
- Family: Sarraceniaceae
- Genus: Sarracenia
- Species: S. purpurea
Purple Pitcher Plant Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
To the surprise of a great many people, the remarkable Purple Pitcher Plant has a comparatively large, if somewhat oddly shaped, range of distribution. That holds true because the fascinating Angiosperm inhabits a fairly large section of the globe.
Further, that’s because it appears in a relatively broad swathe of North America. Firstly, this zone of habitation comprises nearly all of the country of Canada. Secondly, though, the awesome species also appears in very specific parts of the United States.
More specifically, this range of habitation consists of the Eastern seaboard, the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes region, Washington state, and parts of the state of Alaska, as well. Also, like many related species, it evolved as native to ecosystems that most plants find inhospitable.
This characteristic forms the very reason why such plants developed carnivorous natures to augment other nutrient-producing processes. In its case, this mostly consists of peat moss bogs. However, it will also appear in any wetland, and even roadside ditches.
The Purple Pitcher Plant traps its prey when it enters the pitcher. This occurs because the downward pointing hairs prevent it from leaving. Its prey mostly consists of small insects, such as flies, spiders, ants, and occasionally moths.
- Sundew forms the common name for a rather large genus of carnivorous plants. Currently, science knows of 194 species in this genus.
- All varieties of Sundew capture and digest insects via sticky glands on the surface of the leaves.
- The various types also vary significantly in form and size. The genus also occurs on every continent except Antarctica.
- Its name also derives from the drops of mucilage present on the leaves. These drops accumulate at the tips of the leaves of all known forms of these plants.
Sundew Physical Description
Most species of Sundew evolved as perennials, yet a few of them are annuals. However, all remain herbaceous plants.
The various species range rather greatly in size from 0.4-39 in (1-100 cm) in height.
This genus also developed as highly specialized for carnivorous behavior. A few types even acquire needed nutrients entirely from the insects consumed.
The flowers develop high above the leaves, and, in the majority of the different types, the flowers display either white or pink.
Sundew Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Sundew occurs as far north as portions of Alaska, in the United States. To the south, its range extends as far as New Zealand.
The greatest diversity of species still exists in Australia. Roughly half of all the recognized species live there.
Southern Africa and South America each serve as home to 20 known species. North America also remains home to four endemic species of these plants.
Yet another three types evolved in Europe. These typically appear in very wet habitats, with high levels of sunlight and acidic soil.
Some varieties also evolved as climbing plants. These sometimes form stems that grow even taller than this. A few of these unique plants even live as long as 50 years.
- Butterwort serves as the common name of any of the 80 known species of carnivorous plants in the family Pinguicula.
- All known species are perennials. Each of these also has the ability to digest pollen that happens to land on its leaves.
- Further, as with most similar plants, it surprisingly prefers poor, alkaline soil.
- The Butterwort also utilizes sticky, glandular leaves to lure, trap, and then digest insects to augment the nutrition it receives from the soil. Because, why not?
Butterwort Physical Description
As is the case with most carnivorous plants, the flowers of the Butterwort also sit well away from the rest of the plant, through long stalks.
Check out the Venus Flytrap – same story. This represents a practical and remarkable adaptation to prevent the entrapment of potential pollinators.
The Butterwort remains only capable of entrapping small insects, usually, those possessing wide wing surfaces. In this species, the blooms generally develop singular, and long-lasting.
Last, the plant also reproduces both by sexual means, via seeds, as well as through vegetative reproduction through the production of shoots.
Butterwort Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The majority of the approximately 80 known varieties of Butterwort also exist in Central America and South America.
Roughly half of all species inhabit this region. However, smaller numbers of varieties also exist in Europe, North America, and Asia.
The majority of this genus also inhabits regions of nutrient-poor, high alkaline soils. However, some types of Butterwort have also managed to adapt to other, often harsh, environments.
These include soils composed of nearly pure gypsum, acidic peat bogs, and even vertical cliff faces.
The threats faced by species varies, depending on location, but most are considered endangered. Habitat loss remains the primary threat in most cases.
Sadly, only a few regions of its rather unique habitats currently have protected status.
Waterwheel Plant Facts
- The Waterwheel Plant serves as the common name for the rather remarkable Aldrovanda Vesiculosa. It remains a truly extraordinary carnivorous plant.
- Genetically, this rather surprising species actually holds appears to be related to the Venus Flytrap. This plant species, however, is aquatic and entirely free-floating.
- The name derives from the fact that the whorls are around a central, free-floating stem. Despite its aquatic nature, it represents one of the few carnivorous plants capable of rapid movement.
Waterwheel Plant Physical Description
The rather fascinating Waterwheel Plant has a physical appearance distinct from other carnivorous plants. Given its aquatic nature, this does not surprise scientists. However, some things about the species do.
This greenish, rootless aquatic plant actually consists of free-floating stems. These sometimes attain a length of as much as 16 in (40 cm). However, most remain much smaller.
The trap itself also develops quite small. It averages a width of only 0.12 in (3 mm). These grow in whorls numbering between 5 – 9 in a close grouping along the stem.
The underwater traps actually consist of two separate lobes, lined with fine hairs. These trigger the trapping reflex upon touch. The plant feeds on small aquatic invertebrates. When activated, the traps close within 10-20 milliseconds.
Species: A. vesiculosa
Waterwheel Plant Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The remarkable Waterwheel Plant actually forms the most widely distributed of all known carnivorous plants.
However, its population has also declined rather severely over the last century to only 50 confirmed existent populations worldwide.
It also evolved as endemic to Asia, Africa, and Europe. The plant typically prefers clean, shallow, warm standing water with bright light and rather low nutrient levels.
It also spreads mainly through the movement of waterfowl. Plants sticking to the feet of a bird make it to the next aquatic destination on the bird’s route.
As a result, most Waterwheel Plant populations live along bird migratory routes.
Throughout the last century, the species has also become increasingly rare, listed unfortunately as extinct in an increasingly large number of countries.
Venus Flytrap Facts
- The beautiful Venus Flytrap remains one of the most famous, and yet misunderstood, plants on earth.
- An aura of mystery and exoticness also continues to surround it even today.
- The wonder and variety of Nature also extend to the incredible exceptions as well, it seems.
- Out of roughly 375,000 known plant species, only 660 (0.16%) evolved to be carnivorous plants.
- Likely the best known of these we call the beautiful Venus Flytrap. In 1875, Charles Darwin himself called it one of the most wonderful plants in the world.
Venus Flytrap Physical Description
The Venus Flytrap typically attains an overall diameter of about 5 in (12.7 cm). Each individual plant generally produces 5-6 separate stems. These usually have a covering of hinged leaves.
The edges of these leaves also display a row of teeth-like filaments that fit together like the bars of a cell when the leaf closes. When activated, these close in roughly 1 second, and trap the unwary prey.
Each individual trap commonly measures about 1 inch (2.5 cm) across. The species also accomplishes its reproduction either by the spreading of seeds or through means of shoots.
Species: D. muscipula
Venus Flytrap Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The incredible Venus Flytrap supplements the nourishment it derives from its environment with nutrients and moisture from small insects it consumes.
These most commonly include ants and flies but may include other invertebrates, and even tiny frogs.
While many people believe it originates in a tropical environment, it actually developed natively in parts of North Carolina, in the United States.
Yet it has, however, been introduced to various other regions of the country as well.
In its natural habitat in North America, it also tends to prefer areas of moist, acidic soil. This typically includes the understory of various forest regions.
It also requires lots of sunlight and moisture to flourish.
6 Magnificent Carnivorous Plants
We sincerely hope that you have found this listing of 6
Check out our other articles on 10 Extraordinary Reptiles, 8 Swoon-Worthy Caves, 7 Stunning North American Lepidoptera
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