Carnivorous Plants, Flesh Eating Plants Are Getting Bigger and Spreading
Carnivorous plants have been living on this planet since before the human race began.
What was once considered a rare and possible freak of nature, the meat eating plants have been growing in size and spreading across the globe.
Each year brings new strains of flesh eating plants with larger appetites and improved methods of trapping their food.
The food which these plants eat is no longer just small insects, but is now larger insects and frogs.
Is it possible, that one day, the growth rate of these plants will outpace that of the human race?
Venus Fly Trap
The Venus fly trap (latin - Dionaea muscipula) is typically the most common type of carnivorous plant.
Many children grow up in the Western world feeding dead flies to this plant as a science project.
The plant grows wild in wetlands and is native to the East coast of the U.S.A.
The trigger system inside the Venus fly trap is a system of fine hairs. If a hair is touched by an insect the plant gets ready to close.
But activation of the closure mechanism is only activated if two hairs are touched within 20 seconds of each other.
Once the trap has closed, the trapped insects rapid movement stimulates the lobes (leaves) to close tighter.
Once the lobes have sealed in their prey, enzymes are released to break down the body of the trapped prey.
This may take several days depending on the size of the insect. During this time, the insect will be digested alive by the enzymes.
The proteins from the insects are the nourishment that the plants need to survive.
Pitcher Plant Traps (sarracenia)
The Pitcher species (sarracenia) of carnivorous plant can grow up to 1 meter in height.
It attracts is prey by releasing sweet and colorful secretions inside the pitchers lid.
Once an insect or fly lands on the pitcher, it ignorantly gorges itself on the sweet nectar.
The insect does not usually notice that the fine hairs on the sides of the pitcher do not allow the insect a foothold. Instead the prey begins to slip towards the liquid filled base of the pitcher.
After a short fight to gain a foothold, the prey loses its battle and falls into the enzyme filled base of the pitcher.
It is here, along with other insects whom have fallen victim to the plants enzyme pit, that it will be slowly broken down and absorbed into the plant.
Because of the growing size of this and other carnivorous plants, the size of the prey is also on the increase.
The larger the plants, the more protein they require, and smaller insects cannot guarantee a decent meal.
Other species of carnivorous meat eating plants use what is referred to as the 'flypaper' trap.
A fly, ant, or other insect senses the sweet and shiny nectar produced by the plant. Whilst the prey is suckling on the nectar, its' limbs begin to get stuck on the very sticky nectar.
As the plant senses the prey is struggling, the whole leaf begins to roll in on itself.
The more the leaf rolls in and traps the insect, the more hair like fibres with sticky nectar attach to the victims body.
The victims body is then slowly dissolved by enzymes and the protein's absorbed into the plant.
As plants evolve and grow in similar ways to humans, they adapt. They adapt to their surroundings, habitat, and their needs also progress.
Charles Darwin was fascinated by the speed of how the plant traps its victims and by the growth of the plants over generations.
Future Carnivore Plants
Theoretically, if flesh dissolving plants have doubled in size over the last 250 years, how big could they get over the next 250 years ?
From small insects to frogs and mice, the carnivorous plants eating habits have also changed. Their diet is growing as much as their weight, appearance, and geological positions.
They have adapted to be able to continue their feast of insects even whilst underwater and thrive in both environments.
The plants have designed and adapted their weapons to suit many new types of insects and small mammals.
The movie, 'The Day of The Triffids' was about man eating plants. What if one day, these plants were allowed to grow large enough to be able to trap a human, even a small child.
The tropical rain forests of the world still remain largely unexplored. They are so dense that it is difficult for man to penetrate into the centre.
Many new species of plants, animals, and even fish are being discovered around the world, many of which were though to of been extinct.
Who knows what is in the future of our planet.