If this is Saturday, it must be Santa Cruz » « Aww, we broke their poll Respect the plants with the gumption to get up and eat something Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet If this is Saturday, it must be Santa Cruz » « Aww, we broke their poll
Beautiful images and the very last frame is kind of a surprise.
Alan B says
There are times when I am pleased that humans are as big as we are and the carnivorous plants are so small. Triffids, anyone?
Can’t help but notice the superficial reseblance that some of these plants have to human female naughty bits.
Now that I think on it the similarities don’t just just end at appearance. They both entice you in with promises of a tasty treat before sucking the life out of you and leaving you just a dried up husk of your former self.
I have issues.
Glen Davidson says
They haven’t quite managed the chase yet, though.
The bladderworts are perhaps the most impressive carnivorous plants.
As a kind of side issue, carnivorous plants are some of the better showcases of evolution, since the parts doing the carnivory are often quite obviously modifications of something far more harmless, like the modified leaf of the venus fly-trap.
The heartlessness of evolution is on full display as well.
#3 ultim8fury, you’re not the first to notice that. The common name for Dionaea muscipula in the 18th century among dirty botanists of the time was “tipitiwitchet”, and you’ll have to read Barry Rice’s explanation here: http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq2880.html
#4 Glen Davidson, agreed! The fascinating evolution in the Lentibulariaceae family (bladder traps of the Utricularia, flypaper traps of Pinguicula and lobster pot traps of Genlisea), with their disparate trapping mechanisms all originating from a common ancestor is quite amazing. There’s some absolutely elegant research going on right now in carnivorous plant research. Aaron Ellison’s work on the three trophic levels of a microecosystem that exist within the pitchers of Sarracenia purpurea is particularly inspiring.
Thanks for posting this, PZ. Great images, though I turned the sound off within the first minute…
'Tis Himself, OM says
The obligatory clip from Little Shop of Horrors.
Dave Dell says
Just curious. I know plants compete with each other for resources such as light and water. I also know plants live ON other plants. My question is do any plants “attack”, in the carnivore sense, other plants?
Wouldn’t that be in the herbivore sense?
Brownian, OM says
For us non-botanists, the YouTube page helpfully lists the species shown.
Would some knowledgeable person please identify the green plant at around 1:02?
I’m looking myself but uh…Google is not your friend when all you have to go on is “plant”, “carnivorous” and “green” :D
. I also know plants live ON other plants. My question is do any plants “attack”, in the carnivore sense, other plants?
if you will allow a bit of latitude, and say that parasitism is a form of predation…
then yes, many plants exist as parasites on others.
some even obligatory.
mistletoe comes to mind as a most obvious candidate.
Lovely – though probably not if you’re a fly! Are there any theories on how carnivorous plants evolve from non-carnivorous ones? I can think of three ideas:
1) Their traps could have started as defensive measures against herbivory.
2) Many plants need to attract pollinators. Once you can do this, why not attract other species, or at other times of year, and eat the visitor?
3) Many (all?) of these plants live on nitrogen-poor soils. Are there plants there that trap tiny soil particles blown on the wind? If so, the size of particle trapped could gradually increase.
KZT: That would be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldrovanda_vesiculosa , which also have snap traps and is related to the venus flytrap.
Considering that sundews have “tentacles”, they’re strangely rarely mentioned on this blog.
NICE! I have some, but they are hibernating at the moment. Drosera Capensis and Dionaea Muscipula.
Vegan cognitive dissonance generators.
Like insects don’t have enough problems already.
Great images of the carnivorous plants. I also thought that the music was seriously cool!
Very nice music to accompany the creepy plants.
Another parasitic plant that creeps me out is the dodder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuscuta
Blind Squirrel FCD says
According to this article, tomato and potato plants also whack insects for a snack. Of course hundreds of fungi do the same.
#7 Dave Dell,
Interestingly, at least one species of bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea) has been known to cultivate green algae and other organisms, while field studies have found few trapped prey. A carnivorous plant losing its appetite for flesh, maybe?
Jeff Bell says
My brother sent away for some mail-order venus fly traps when he was in sixth grade. We left them on the back porch.
The rabbits came in the night and ate them.
K. E. Decilon says
I liked the music also. So I tracked down the original on youtube.
Jesus Christ. Did you ever have sleep paralysis? That is what it feels like. And it is very satisfying when you wake up to chase them sumbitches back where they come from.
#21 Bugs are fertilizer for carnivorous plants. They will grow fine, but not as vigorous without catching anything.
I have a small collection of butterworts, flytraps, sundews, Sarracenia, and Nepenthes. They’re definitely the most interesting plants I’ve ever owned. I always get a laugh out of the spider that made its web on one of my sundews and ended up being eaten by the plant.
Then I opened a beer.
I imagine that gecko at the end of the video had no problem breaking free, but its still a great shot.
#24 Do you see a lot of bugs get out of the flytraps? I had one that trapped all of a cricket except the head, and he slowly ate his way out.
Time for the obligatory A. Whitney Brown quoteI think:
There’s at least one carnivorous plant it probably couldn’t break free from:
A rat-eating pitcher plant!
nice pics. good music. whoever edited that thing doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing.
Massive Attack… wow. I so totally went through a trip-hop (and related stuff) stage like 6 years ago and this tune was high on the playlist.
Massive Attack. Hooverphonic. Portishead. Thievery Corporation. Morcheeba. Bjork (not triphop, but…). the list goes on and on.
I never listen to any of that stuff anymore. :(
Come to think of it, I pretty much don’t listen to any music any more. WTH happened?
Here you go, list of trip-hop bands.
Lots of good stuff there.
(Lamb! Oh man, I listened to so much Lamb.)
You need some buckethead.
I, for one, welcome our new plant overlords!
#26 I once made the mistake of feeding queen ants to my Venus Fly Trap and then leaving it next to the ant’s nest. I came back an hour later to discover that the worker ants had eaten the trap to rescue their queen.
#5 Barry Rice always appears to be mentioned whenever there are carnivorous plants around. That story about the “tipitiwitchet” still makes me giggle.
There’s been a lot of discussion recently on how the Venus Fly Trap is related to Sundews. Pretty interesting considering that they look very dissimilar and have rather different trapping mechanisms.
@teleledningsanka Thank you! I wouldn’t have found that in a million years! Now I’m off to see if I can make something similar with a fractal program. Cheers!
#28 blf, That account (well maybe not the BBC article in particular) and others like it on the discovery of Nepenthes attenboroughii represent the worst of science journalism. Stewart made an off-hand comment about the size of the plant and how it’s as large, if not larger, than plants that have been found to rarely capture mice in cultivation. He did not suggest that this particular species has ever been found to capture rodents. He later clarified that he was misquoted by a bunch of news sources who wanted to run the headlines “Rat-capturing plant discovered” and “Could newly discovered plant help New York City’s rat problem?” The larger pitcher plants capture rodents so infrequently in the wild that any capture is accidental in the plants quest for arthropod prey. These plants have not evolved to capture rodents, either.
However, one species of Nepenthes has had selection pressure put upon it by populations of tree shrews to evolve a better trapping form for their nutrient-rich feces! Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/science/16obpitcher.html?_r=1 (a short article, but I love that photo).
Dr. Matt says
1) It does seem likely that many adaptations to carnivory, particularly sticky traps, started as defenses against herbivores. Defensive glandular trichomes are common in many different plant groups, and there are all sorts of living examples of intermediates between non-carnivorous plants that are sticky to deter herbivores (but which snare and kill the occasional small insect), and plants that have the full suite of adaptations to carnivory.
2) There don’t seem to be any confirmed examples of flowers that have been modified to become traps. The trade offs between acquiring nitrogen and reproducing would probably be a formidable barrier. It may be that physiological functions (producing scents, secreting nectar, synthesizing pigments) that initially evolved to attract pollinators may have been co-opted to attract prey to leaf-derived traps, but I don’t think anything is known about specifics, yet.
3) One of the four independent origins of pitcher-plant-type traps apparently started with structures that act as catchment basins for rainwater, dust and organic detritus. Many species of bromeliad have rosettes of leaves that form a tank to store water, and two genera from especially nutrient-poor habitats have some simple mechanisms to attract and more efficiently trap animals (brightly colored and scented leaves, with slippery surfaces). The carnivorous bromeliads are a bit marginal as insect eating plants, though– their adaptations for luring and trapping are not nearly as impressive as the adaptations seen in the other three groups of pitcher plants.
That would be a fascinating example of an evolutionary palimpsest. A producer that evolved towards being a consumer, and then evolved back towards being a producer – by cultivating another producer!