Today we are going to talk about carnivorous plants and you need not be afraid of them. The carnivorous plants are far from presenting any kind of danger, except for the small insects that, by chance, cross their path.
The bad reputation of carnivorous plants comes from the stories and cartoons that often associate the species with a threatening being endowed with evil intelligence and instincts.
Carnivorous plants have this particular name because of their ability to attract, capture and digest small insects. But why do they do this, anyway? One of the main characteristics of carnivorous plants is that they live on nutrient-poor soils and, for this reason, have developed elaborate mechanisms to guarantee their own survival. Thus, throughout their history of evolution, they began to attract insects as a way to complement their “feeding.”
It is estimated that there are more than 750 different species of carnivorous plants in the world, divided into 20 different genera. Only in Brazil is possible to find about 200 species of carnivorous plants.
The exotic beauty, bright colors, and unusual shapes that the carnivorous plants present make the plant a great decorative option. However, to keep it at home you need to take some basic care, regardless of the species.
Caring for the Carnivorous Plant
- The carnivorous plants need constant watering, so make sure the substrate where the plant lives is always moist;
- Cultivate the carnivorous plants on balconies, backyards or near windows, so that it can attract the insects to itself;
- Never “feed”, touch or cause the carnivorous plant “prey” to close, this causes stress on the plant, as well as an unnecessary energy expenditure that can hinder its healthy growth and development;
- Sun is also important to keep the carnivorous plant healthy and beautiful;
- Do not offer nutrient-rich soil the carnivorous plant, unlike other plants, this care can be fatal to the species;
- When buying the carnivorous plant, replant it with the preparation of sand, moss and fennel powder and be very careful with the roots, since they are very fragile and delicate;
- If the carnivorous plant becomes too large for the vase, transplant it to a larger vase, preferably during the spring when the plant develops better;
Curiosities of Carnivorous Plants
- Carnivorous plants possess enzymes that facilitate their digestive process;
- This type of plant does not grow much, being that, on average, it reaches up to 15 centimeters in height. Some species of carnivorous plants, considered giants, are not more than half a meter high;
- Carnivorous plants feed mainly on ants, flies, mosquitoes and even small beetles;
- Larger species of carnivorous plants can feed on small reptiles, amphibians, and even birds, but most of the time these animals are attracted to the plant by the insects trapped in it, where they become prey as well;
- There are three different types of carnivorous plants: cage-like, characterized by a mouth-like shape, with serrated edges that open and close to capture prey. The second type is suction. Carnivorous plants of this type are also known as pot plants, where the prey is sucked into the plant’s interior by touching the entrance opening. And, finally, there are carnivorous plants of the leafy type. These are interesting because they have a substance in their leaves that attract the insects and leave them stuck to it, being absorbed slowly by the plant.
- Did you know that fossils of carnivorous plants that lived more than 65 million years ago have been found? It is believed that this type of plant arose at the same time as the dinosaurs.
Where to Buy and Price the Carnivorous Plant
Nowadays, with the popularization of carnivorous plants, it is possible to find varied types for sale in gardening stores, home centers, and even supermarkets. The average price of a small carnivorous plant ranges from $ 7 to $ 15, depending on the species.
Main Species of Carnivorous Plants to Grow at Home
The carnivorous plant Darlingtonia Californica was discovered in 1841 in California, USA by botanist and researcher JD Brackenridge. With the shape of a jar, the plant attracts insects, trapping them inside. The bacteria present in the plant digest the prey. To grow the Darlingtonia Californica it is necessary to irrigate the soil with good light.
The Dioneia carnivorous plant is one of the most cultivated in the world, very easy to find. This species, also known as Venus fly potato, attracts the insects through the nectar present in their prey that present a peculiar form of the serrated mouth. Upon contact with the surface of the plant, the sensory small ones trigger the trap, which quickly closes keeping the insect trapped inside.
Like the Dioneia, Drosera is among the most popular carnivorous plants in the world. Small, the leaves of Drosera do not exceed 3.5 centimeters. To attract its prey, the Drosera releases a sticky substance in its leaves that causes the insects to be trapped in it. As soon as the prey is captured, the leaf wraps around it initiating the digestive process.
The Nepenthes carnivorous plant is one of the largest that exists. Originally from the island of Borneo, near Malaysia, this species is a type of vine that is characterized by the shape of the jar of some of its leaves. The catch is made by the hairs present inside the plant that prevent the prey from escaping. Due to its larger size, the accumulation of prey inside can invariably end up favoring the appearance of unpleasant odors in the plant.
The carnivorous plant Pinguicula has a system of attraction and capture of the prey very similar to that of the Drosera, that is, it attracts the insects through nectar and, when they touch the plant, the insects are glued to the leaves. The great differential of this species of carnivorous plant is its ornamental flowers, which makes it a beautiful decorative option.
The Sarracenia-type carnivorous plant is found naturally in marshy regions, overflowing water and exposed to direct sunlight. The most striking feature of this species is the cone-shaped leaves used to attract and capture insects.