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What are Insectivorous Plants?

Insectivorous plants are the plant that derives their nutrition by feeding on insects and other organisms. Insectivorous means insect-eating, these plants derive most of their nutrition from the insects, that they trap and consume. These plants grow in humid areas, where plenty of sunlight and moisture are found. They are found in nitrogen-deficient soil. That is why they trap and digest insects to absorb nutrients. Venus flytrap, pitcher plant, and cobra lily are some of the insectivorous plants’ names. They are often called Carnivorous plants.

Characteristics of Insectivorous Plants

  • Nitrogen Deficiency: These are found in nitrogen-lacking places and thus face a lack of nutrients. As a result, they have evolved as insect trapping or eating plants that enable them to absorb the necessary nutrients through their leaf structures.
  • Attractive Nectars: They appear shiny and colorful; some have a sweet or pleasant odor and flavored nectars by which insects attract easily. Thus, when insects approach the plants, they are trapped and digested by the plants with the help of their juices or enzymes.
  • No Escape: There are no chances of escaping for the insects if they fit right into the leaves of the insectivorous plants. Some smaller insects sometimes can get out through traps. The mouth of the plants has hair-lined edges that help to shut the lobes of the leaves trapping the insect inside. Most of the insects are not at all able to escape when they touch the hair and the flap opens. Some plants have sticky mucus in them that makes an insect immovable.
  • Enzymes and Juices: Insectivorous plants secrete digestive juices consisting of enzymes that help in dissolving the insect for absorption. Bacteria or mites present in the digestive tract of some plants also mimic functions similar to the human digestive tract.
  • Wet and Damp Places: They are found mostly in wet, damp, humid, and acidic soil, that is deficient in nutrients, such as swamps, bogs, wetlands, coastal plains, etc. They are found in the wet regions of North America, Australia, and tropical regions.

Types of Traps In Insectivorous Plants

The trapping mechanisms are designated as active or passive depending upon whether they move to capture the prey or not. The different types of traps found in insectivorous plants are mentioned below:

  • Pitfall Traps: These are found in a pitcher plant. They comprise of a hollow leaf with a lid, filled with liquid to digest the prey.
  • Snap Traps: These types of traps are found in Venus flytraps. They shut their leaves rapidly as the prey touches the trigger hair.
  • Bladderwort Traps: These are commonly found in Utricularia. They use a partial vacuum to suck the small organisms.
  • Flypaper Traps: These traps are sticky and adhesive. The leaves are covered in stalked glands that secrete sticky mucilage.
  • Lobster-pot Traps: These are found in corkscrew plants. They possess downward-pointing hair that pushes the prey deep inside the trap.

Insectivorous Plants

Examples of Insectivorous Plants

  • Drosera.
  • Venus Flytrap.
  • Nepenthes.
  • Pinguicula.
  • Genlisea.