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Carnivorous Plants - How Do They Obtain Nutrient Necessary for Survival

Updated on January 2, 2014
Flesh-Eating Plant --Venus Flytrap
Flesh-Eating Plant --Venus Flytrap

Plants, in general, like animals, need certain chemical elements as nutrient. They obtain the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen needed to survive from the air, and water, along with other nutrients from the soil. Through their association with bacteria, they are also able to obtain unstable nitrogen. However, there are a few exceptional plants that obtain nutrient in a very mysterious way!

It might sound pretty strange to many to hear this, but there are several plants that actually are carnivorous(meat-eaters) - They receives the nutrients necessary for survival from eating meat. This is no science fiction, in fact, there are several Flesh-eating plants on planet earth. Some can also be found in the U.S. Today, I will be sharing with you all that I have discovered about one of such plants -- the Venus Flytrap.

The Venus Flytrap - An Introduction

The Venus Flytrap (Dianaea muscipula) a meat-eating plant, can be found in a place like Croatan National Forest, a piney preserve near North Carolina's Atlantic seaboard. These plants grow freely in the waterlogged, acidic soil. Each of the plant's bizarre leave is made up of two green lobes rimmed with stiff whitish spines and sporting three trigger hairs at the lobe's center. Cells with special abilities are located at the base of these hairs.

How Does the Flytrap Obtain Nutrient

Based on finding, when an insect such as ant, dragonfly or any other of it's prey lands and causes the hairs to bend twice in quick succession, trigger cells located at the foot of the hairs are deformed, as if pried by a lever. The stress automatically stimulates the trigger cells causing them to transmit an electric signal that flows from cell to cell throughout the leaf. The specialized motor cells that receive the signal, changed shape, thus resulting in the closing of the trap.

The leaf closes tighter, as the doomed insect struggles. The thrashing breaks open cells that have synthesized large quantities of digestive enzymes --proteins that begin to break apart the prey's body molecule by molecule. Within two days, nothing remains of it but the indigestible husk. The preys' other tissues have been broken down and absorbed by the plant. At this point, the mouth of the leaf begins to open once again, and the smell of sweet plant secretions will probably lure another insect within minutes or hours.

It's believed that the shutting of the flytrap depends on the activities of individual cells within each leaf -- trigger cells, motor cells, and digestive cells. The specialized cells that open and close a Venus Flytrap are typical in many ways, but they are specialized too, in ways that facilitate the plant's meat-eating habit -- and in turn, its survival in its environment.

Why Flesh is Important to The Venus Flytrap

Carnivory among plants is believed to be an evolutionary innovation that allows the flytrap to exploit the boggy environment where most other plants would fail to thrive. According to plant specialists, there are 350 or more carnivorous(meat-eating)plant species around the world, and Croatan, North Carolina, has the widest selection of any region its size in the United States.

Plant ecologists have discovered that carnivorous plants generally share poor environments that lack sufficient absorbable minerals. As a result, they have evolved over many decades, developing ways of securing sufficient amount of all the necessary absorbable nutrients required for survival.

A few of the many Flesh-eating plants include the Trumpet Pitcher, Butterworths, Sundews and the Bladderworth plants. Each of these plant has its own unique way of luring, trapping and killing its preys. Please be aware that us humans have nothing to worry about; so have no fear!

(c) I. McFarlane 2012


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    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for your feedback. It was really a pleasure sharing my opinion with you. I am also glad to know that you find this article on "carnivorous plants" interesting. Thanks for the vote.

    • Anjili profile image


      6 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      Thanks for responding to a query I asked times back. I have always been fascinated with plants carnivorous tendencies. Now I understand why they do it. Interesting and voted up

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      You're welcome derma. I said the same thing("wow"), when I accidentally stumbled upon this information.

    • derma profile image


      6 years ago

      wow i had never heard of that.. thanks for the information interesting read.

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for your comments and your vote. I agree --- on this planet, we do have a lot of undiscovered life, mysteries etc, that may cause us to stand in awe!

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for your feedback. I actually added one picture so far, which I had originally intended to do. Thanks though for your suggestion.

    • point2make profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent hub...voted up! It really makes you think when you see "meat" eating plants. What a wonderful and diverse planet we live on. Great info .....thanks.

    • glockr profile image


      6 years ago

      I really like this Hub:) Lots of neat info on the Venus Flytrap - very interesting plant. Hope you add some pictures.


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