Carnivorous Plants

 Carnivorous Plants are flowering PLANTS of worldwide distribution with leaves adapted for trapping small ANIMALS, especially INSECTS. Pitcher plants (genera Nepenthes,Sarracenia,Darlingtonia,Cephalotus) have open, water-filled traps that act as pitfalls for insects attracted by nectar around the rim of the pitchers.

In butterworts (Pinguicula) sticky leaf surfaces act as flypaper to trap prey; in sundews (Drosera) sticky, long-stalked glands serve the same function, then bend inwards to enfold the victim. Aquatic bladderworts (Utricularia) have numerous tiny submerged bladders, each with a trap door that springs open when trigger hairs around it are touched by a potential victim. The minute animal is then carried inside by the rush of water. Once trapped, the animal is digested by enzyme secretions or decomposed by micro-organisms. Its remains release soluble organic molecules (eg, amino acids) that supplement nutrients in short supply in the plant's habitat.

Worldwide, about 500 species have been described and classified; 18 species occur in Canada, among them a single species of PITCHER PLANT (Sarracenia purpurea), common in bogs across Canada, 2 butterworts and several species of sundew. One of the best-known carnivorous plants, the Venus flytrap, occurs naturally only in coastal habitats of North and South Carolina in the US.