A nerdfest about 5 carnivorous plants — including one you can grow today!

By on Mar 1st

My attraction to carnivorous plants lies in the traps and tricks they use to snag insects and small vertebrates. Many carnivorous plants live in poor substrates and have to find their nourishment elsewhere. So over the eons, the plants which have been most able to nourish themselves — I like to think of it as "filling their planty bellies" — passed along their adaptations to their progeny. When you look at one of these babies, you're looking at the result of millions of years of plant survival and specialization.

Plus, they're totally creepy. They lead me down an imaginary path to a future where plants have adapted to luring humans into their maws…

Any of these plants would be a great addition to your cabinet of curiosities — if you can keep them alive!

Source: en.wikipedia.org via muffin on Pinterest

The cobra lily — with genuses native to Northwest US, India, and Asia — produces a sweet smell which lures insects under its flippy leaf. Inside the flower are a series of false exits, so trapped insects find it hard to escape!

Source: imgfave.com via Corinne on Pinterest

Ahh, the classic Venus fly trap. Did you know it takes about 10 days for a pod to digest its prey?

Image courtesy Wikipedia.

It's not nice to taunt them, though — using up their snap-shut energy on a false signal can be dangerous to the plant.

Sundews are AMAZING!

Sundews have active adhesive traps. Their prey is also attracted with the aid of optical signals. Using stalked mucilaginous glands covering its leaf surface, the plant captures insects. In fact, to catch the victim, all species of sundew are capable of moving their tentacles toward the blade center. -Wikiepedia

butterworts © by Just chaos, used under Creative Commons license.

Butterwort's sticky leaves are its insect trap! I love the words 'butter' and 'wort'.

butterworts © by Just chaos, used under Creative Commons license.

And finally, you want to grow one? Paxton Gate likes Nepenthes alata, the Hanging Pitcher Plant.

Recreate their natural habitat in a greenhouse or in place in a sunny bathroom! Nepenthes enjoy as much light as you can give them from bright diffused to direct sun. Also moisture is key. The soil should never dry out completely and misting is often helpful if you do not already have a humid environment. They will reward you with an abundance of greenish-red pitchers.

I hear they're not terribly difficult!

I've also found detailed information on growing pitcher plants and other carnivorous flora at rdrop.com, if your interest is piqued. Twitter recommends Seattle's Indoor Sun Shoppe for sourcing.

(Thanks to Libby Bulloff for your help!)

What's your favorite highly-specialized plant? Let me know so I can keep collecting them on Pinterest.

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About Cat Rocketship

I was the Managing Editor of Offbeat Home for a year and a half. I have a rich Internet life and also a pretty good real life. Hobbies include D&D, Twitter, and working on making our household more self-reliant. I also draw things.