There is a superstition insectivorous plants that some can trap large-sized animals, including even man, and digest them. But scientists have yet to discover such a type of plant. The known insectivorous plants eat only small insects, crustaceans and other aquatic animals.
Insectivorous plants grow mostly in marshy places, which are deficient in nitrogenous compounds. These plants do not get nitrogen from the soil so they cannot synthesize protein in their bodies. Therefore, by eating small insects and animals, they meet their protein requirements. These plants also prepare food by photosynthesis. There are about 400 species of insectivorous plants, of which a few are described here.
The leaves of this plant are tubular or pitcher-shaped and contain a sweet enzyme. When the insects get attracted by the color and smell of the leaves, they crawl over the hard and drooping surface of the leaves and get trapped inside. After that, the cells of the leaves digest the soft parts of the insects body. In this group, the leaves of the plant Sarracenia are the longest, more than a meter.
Drosera or Sundew
Sundew is another group of insectivorous plants. These plants are 8 to 20 cm long and green in color. These plants have circular and flat laminae and hair like structures on the upper surface of the leaves. These secrete a gummy liquid which shines like dewdrops. Insects, attracted by its smell, sit on the laminae and get stuck on the leaf. The surrounding tentacles also close in and trap the insect. The enzymes present in this gummy liquid digest the nitrogenous substances of the insect.
These plants mainly have laminae and lobes. From the lobes, there arise 12 to 20 hard teeth of about half an inch length. On the surface of the laminae, several thin hairs grow which is sensitive touch. If an insect comes in contact with this sensitive hair, the two flaps of the leaf start folding like a book. In the process, the insect is trapped and the glands present on the upper surface of the leaf digest the insect. After digesting the soft body parts of the insect, the leaf opens again. The leaf takes just a second to trap the prey.