There are plants that have evolved to be eaters of living organisms, the Carnivorous plants. Numerous species using different techniques but my favorites are the pitcher plants. These come in a staggering variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Often the best of these can be purchased at your local floral shop or dealer.
Many Players With But One Tune: The Death March
These don’t look scary to you? Imagine being a bug with the capacity to understand the danger and you were flying low over a field of open, hungry screeching baby robin beaks. -Or the open maws of carnivorous plants. Its the same thing. Yeah, -scared now? If you were a bug, these plants could eat you.
Pitcher Plants are my favorite of the carnivorous plant varieties. Their colors and variety are astounding. Most pitcher plants employ a ‘pitfall trap’ method whereby insects or even possibly a small amphibian either by lure or by accident, slip and fall into the vessel. There, they are unable to climb out due to either the vertical walls being too slippery, or grooved in such a way to make climbing out difficult or more commonly, the inside of the vessel has downward pointing hair.
The most accepted belief is that Pitcher Plants evolved from various sorts of pitfall trap plants that employ rolled or tubular leaves, with evolution favoring the ones with the deepest cupped leaves. I believe that bromeliads employ a simple ‘pitfall trap’ in that they retain a pool of standing water and anything that falls in and decays, provides some nutrients to the plant. It is possible that pitcher plants evolved from this manner, getting better and improving upon the design until it reached perfection.
Attractive and Alluring
Insects that fall prey to this passive system of predation eventually drown in the digestive juices and will be dissolved and absorbed by the plant. Enzymes from the plant itself and bacterial action may also assist several varieties of Pitcher plants in this feat. Some varieties of these plants have a mutualistic relationship with the larvae of certain insects which aid to break-down the insects, and the pitcher benefits from that as well as the excreta from the insect.
The insects that are trapped are reduced to amino acids, phosphates, ammonium, peptides and urea, which is lacking in the poor soils the in which the pitcher plants grow. Pitcher plants tend to grow in soils that are too mineral deprived or acidic for most other plants to grow, so often they are the predominate plants in that area. You tend to find them in vast numbers, packed closely and devoid of most any other kinds of plants.