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29 September 2007

CARNIVORUOS PLANTS (Meat eating plants)

While wandering through one of the local supermarkets, my husband and I wandered to the plant for sale section and came across four different species of carnivorous plants. I am fascinated with these creatures (well they do seem more like animals) recalling one or two horror movies about man-eating plants. Even my five year old son asked once “Mummy, is there such a thing as a man-eating plant?” One hasn’t been discovered yet I told him. Most of the plants found so far are really tiny and traps only insects.

The Venus fly-trap for instance, can only manage to grab a single fly, maybe something larger like a dragon-fly. This plant was among the ones being sold at the supermarket. Yes, I have seen close-up pictures before but not one in real life. I was surprise at how tiny it was. It looks like a gaping mouth with lovely long eyelashes. More like an alien plant really. People can be forgiven for not daring to put their finger in, just in case it is actually painful to be bitten.

The other plant that was there was similar to a pitcher plants (as in a ‘water jug’) although the leaves had not actually formed into a 'cup' yet . It is green with reddish veins and gew to about four to six inches tall. I suppose this was how the actual pitcher plant evolved from actual leaves joining together. Very ineresting.

The last pitcher plant we saw is also known as the ‘monkey-cup’ in this part of the world. Local folk-lore has it that whenever a monkey is thirsty it will use the plant as a cup to drink water from. This one looked a bit different from the other two pitcher plants. Its main part are large leaves growing out of the ground and hanging at the end are the ‘cups’. The plant is mostly green in colour and the ‘cups’ are speckled reddish green. Now these, I have seen growing abundantly in the wild tropical jungle.

Carnivorous plants of the tropics are often found near or in swampy or wet areas where insect often come to mate or lay eggs. That’s were they survive well.

I’ve often wondered how best to use these wonderful creature in the home, assuming you know how to keep and maintain one. Now, don’t think I am a sadist or cruel. Flies and mosquitoes are often bringers of diseases and are not welcome to many homes. One can’t tell which one is clean and which one isn’t so don’t blame many people for wanting to get rid of them. I’m only helping nature do what it does naturally out in the wild. You can’t stop a lion from eating meat can you? For the same reason you can’t force feed a carnivorous plant with tofu either. For animal lovers, if you want to stop reading at this point you may do so.

One of the ideas that came to mind is growing them near the dustbin or garbage area of your home. In the tropics rubbish especially leftover food tend to rot very quickly. The smell itself is enough to attract flies and so provide a lot of food for your little monster (as well as helping you get rid of pesky flies). The other idea that I have is growing them on your kitchen or dining window sill where flies and other insect often enter to invade your home. Finally, on a hot, sunny day, just when you feel like having a nice picnic or barbecue somewhere, hundreds of flies or mosquitoes attack you or your food. Well, well, well this is the best time to bring out your carnivorous plant. Not only will it decorate your table nicely but it will also get to have a picnic with you. Guest will be highly fascinated at how these plants manage to evolve and become what they are today. A good conversation topic for parties.

 Links :
International Carnivorous Plant Society Homepage 
The Carnivorous Plant Society (CPS)
Australian Carnivorous Plant Society, Inc

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