When we think of a carnivorous animal, the first thing that comes to mind is large fangs or powerful claws. Predators like tigers, lions or sharks take over our imagination. However, what about carnivorous plants? Calling them carnivores is a little poetic license to begin with, as they actually only eat insects.
Anyway, how do carnivorous plants feed? What system do they use to digest their prey? As a summary, in the following article, we answer these and other questions.
What types of carnivorous plants exist
The process of feeding carnivorous plants has a previous step, and that is obtaining food, in this case insects. Depending on the way in which they capture their prey, we can distinguish between three different types of carnivorous plants :
- By folding the sheets : perhaps it is the most popular for the general public due to its spectacular nature. Through this mechanism, the plant closes its leaves, trapping the insect inside when it touches its interior. To do this, it releases a nectar with which it attracts insects and closes when it touches at least 2 times, so as not to confuse them with a drop.
- Hair that sticks : using the nectar as a lure, when the insects reach the plant they are trapped by the glue that they give off.
- By leaves in a jar : these types of plants have leaves in the form of a jar, making them fill with water due to dew or when it rains. Therefore, when an insect enters there attracted by its nectar, it becomes trapped and dies by drowning.
How carnivorous plants digest
Now, once the insect is trapped, how are they able to digest and feed on them? The summary of how carnivorous plants feed is quick: enzymes. Enzymes are a type of protein produced by the cells of an organism – humans also produce them – that act as a catalyst and regulator of chemical reactions that occur in the body itself.
When ants, flies, mosquitoes or spiders are trapped inside the carnivorous plant, it begins to secrete enzymes that will slowly decompose and digest the animal . At the same time, other glands of the plant begin to function, with them the plant absorbs the nutrients it needs and that emerge as a result of the activity of the enzymes.
Finally, we must also talk about the pitcher-shaped plants. We have seen that this structure serves to trap and kill the insects that fall on them, however, the latest studies that have been done affirm that, in addition to water, there are also a large number of bacteria and microorganisms that help them. in the decomposition of insects. Finally, the enzymes make the end of digestion and thus manage to absorb that food.
We have to keep in mind that the pace is very slow . Humans are able to digest a meal in 6 or 8, in much larger quantities, while a fly can take more than 2 weeks to be digested by a carnivorous plant.
Where do carnivorous plants live
There are many species of this type of plant, in fact there are about 630 species of plants that feed on the insects they hunt. Thus, we find them in many different areas, yes, they cannot grow anywhere and they need basic characteristics to be able to develop.
The carnivorous plant live in swampy sites , especially those with low nitrogen and an acidic pH. The reason why they grow in these poor soils is that the inability to capture food from the soil made them develop in other food arts, such as hunting, less typical of vegetables. Its origin is totally wild, however, if we adapt the conditions in which they live we can perfectly cultivate them at home, in fact, there are many people who are very fond of it.
Basic care of carnivorous plants
If you want to grow a carnivorous plant at home, you should know what type of species it is , because while some can survive well in cold climates, there are others that only tolerate warmth. The soil in which the plant will grow must have little nutrient, for this it is recommended to put a base of moss and sand to replicate the conditions in which it grows wild.
You can put it perfectly in a plastic pot , as long as it is adapted to its dimensions and keep it inside, as long as it has enough humidity and sunlight. In general, it does not need to be fed, since it is itself capable of attracting and hunting insects . Now, if there are not enough in your house, you can do it. Anyway you should bear in mind that with a prey they can feed for weeks, so you should not do it daily, much less.