Term Paper: Carnivorous Plants Botany, the Study

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[. . .] When any stimulus touches one of the hairs enough to move it, the leaves snap shut, which traps whatever is inside. If the object is not an insect, but rather a rock, or leaf, the leaves reopen in about twelve hours and "spit" the item out.

Once the trap is closed, there are cilia that keep the large insects from being able to escape. These cilia are look like fingers on the outside of the leaves, which interlock much like our fingers would if we were to clasp our hands together.

Within a few minutes, the trap shuts tightly, forming an airtight seal around the insect which keeps bacteria out, and the digestive secretions in (Stone).

For the next week, or so (depending on the size of the insect, as well as temperature conditions) the plant secretes digestive fluids that help dissolve the inner part of the insect, leaving behind the outer exoskeleton. Once the insect is dissolved, the trap reopens, and wind usually blows away the leftover exoskeleton.

The Venus' Flytrap is found in North Carolina, and grows to be around 12-25 cm tall (Stiefel 66). Insects are attracted to the plant by the sweet nectar and red interior that shows when the leaves are opened.

Carnivorous Plants, Conclusion

Carnivorous plants are not dangerous to humans, or household pets for that matter. There are some reports, as noted earlier, of one particular type of carnivorous plant - the Nepenthes pitcher plant (Asian jungle vine) that has eaten large frogs, some birds and even small monkeys (Stiefel 66). However, these reports are rare, and the birds and monkeys were most likely already sick. The vine can grow to be over ten meters long, making it a rather large carnivore, but harmless to humans nevertheless (Stiefel 65).

Each carnivorous plant has its own mechanism for trapping, and attracting insects, which can be fascinating study. The blatterwort plant, for example, attracts its prey with a faint odor that it gives off. Once close enough, the insect will rub against hairs that open up tiny, underwater traps that open up, let water rush in, which then brings the prey along with it.

In essence, carnivorous plants are fascinating flora which are diverse, beautiful, and deadly to insects and other small organisms. While they are not exactly alive in the sense that humans are, with nervous systems, they are unusual organisms that have caused many horror movie fans, and avid gardeners to become enamored by them.

Botanical Society of America, The Mysterious Venus' Flytrap. http://www.botany.org/bsa/misc/carn.html, BSA Image Collection. Accessed 11/15/2002

Rice, Barry. Carnivorous Plants FAQ v.90, provided by International Carnivorous Plant Society. Last updated April 2002;

http://www.sarracenia.com/faq.html. Accessed 11/17/02

Stiefel, Chana. "Meat-Eating Plants." Science World. 220 March 2000, pp. 65-66

Stone, Doris. The Lives… [END OF PREVIEW]

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