An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

Posts tagged “carnivorous plants

Pitcher Plant Flowers

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The Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is a well-known carnivorous plant of bogs. It gets some of its nutrients by trapping and drowning prey in rain water that is caught inside a modified leaf that forms a cup. While most people are familiar with the leaves of Pitcher Plants, unless you visit a bog in June, you’re not likely to see their unique flower. It is curved over when it’s mature and its sepals (modified leaves that protect the bud and are located above the petals in these photographs) are red-purple and pointed; the petals are red and rounded. An approaching insect would be guided into the flower between two of the sepals–it would land on a petal and climb into the flower onto the umbrella-shaped stigma (the sticky top of the female pistil) which I inverted in one photograph in order to show the male pollen-producing stamens. An insect entering the flower would brush against the stamens, collecting pollen on its back while pollen from a previously-visited Pitcher Plant would fall off the insect onto the sticky stigma on which it was standing, pollinating the flower.


Common Bladderwort

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Common bladderwort is a carnivorous flowering plant – in amongst its finely-divided, submerged leaves, it possesses tiny sacs which were once thought to be flotation devices, but are actually highly specialized traps that capture, hold and digest food for the plant.   These sacs have a double-sealed, airtight door on one end.  When this door is closed, the sac, or bladder, expels water through its wall, creating a partial vacuum inside.  A leafy, feather-like structure hangs down adjacent to the door and the instant an organism bumps against this feathery trigger, it twists and breaks the seal of the door.  The vacuum inside causes water to rush in, pulling the victim along with it. As the bladder fills with water, the pressure is equalized inside and out and the door automatically closes, caging the plant’s prey.  This entire process takes 2/1000ths of a second.  As enzymes digest the prey, special cells in the bladder’s wall pump out the water and re-establish a partial vacuum inside, preparing the trap to spring again.