Happy World Carnivorous Plant Day!
We often tell our customers that many plants native to Florida have evolved to thrive in our nutrient-poor soils. Today, our focus is on a group of plants that the Botanical Society of America describes as having “the most bizarre adaptations to low-nutrient environments”: namely, carnivorous plants. These plants trap and digest insects (and sometimes other small animals) to obtain nitrogen, a nutrient essential for plant growth, using specially adapted leaves.
These traps have been categorized according to the way they work:
Pitfall traps: plant leaves create folds that are filled with digestive enzymes;
Flypaper traps: plant leaves exude a sticky mucilage to trap insects;
Snap traps: plant leaves are hinged and snap shut when something touches its trigger hairs;
Lobster-pot traps: plants lure animals to crawl deep into this tubular trap, which is lined with windows that allow in light. The light confuses prey and they can’t find their way out.
Suction traps: plant leaves with a balloon-like shape have an elastic door containing trigger hairs; when these hairs are touched, the trap door opens and it sucks up anything nearby
(You can watch a video that shows how quickly suction traps work here.)
Florida has dozens of native species of carnivorous plants – more than any other state in the US – including six species of pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.), five species of sundews (Drosera spp.), fourteen species of bladderworts (Utricularia spp.), and six species of butterworts (Pinguicula spp.).
Florida’s native carnivorous plants are usually found in bogs or other wetlands, but they can be grown at home in rain gardens, containers with moist mediums, or special terraniums. Kenny Coogan is a local resource for all things related to carnivorous plants. He’s authored a book, Florida’s Carnivorous Plants: Understanding, Identifying, and Cultivating the State’s Native Species, which will be published this summer.
We are fortunate to have Kenny speaking on June 25th during our upcoming National Pollinator week celebration (time TBD). Let us know if you’d like to attend and we’ll put you on the notification list by emailing Info@ButterflyTampa.com. As always, you can stop by Little Red Wagon Native Nursery or reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to let us know about your interest.Hope to see you soon.
(And May the 4th be with you!)