The Insectivorous House

The quiet, calm atmosphere of this house belies the sinister nature of the plants we grow here. All is not as it seems. In the wild they grow in nutrient-poor environments and in such poor soils, insect protein is an essential nutrient for growth.

Carnivory has evolved several times in plants and this collection of carnivores display many of the mechanisms required to trap insect prey. Some traps are passive, such as the sticky flypaper of the genus Pinguicula. Sarracenias have pit-fall traps in the form of pitchers containing pools of digestive enzymes into which insects fall.

Sarracenia pitchers

The traps of the venus fly trap, Dionaea muscipula, actually move and are triggered by the unlucky insect walking across the surface.

Dionaea muscipula - venus fly trap. Photo credit Nimmi Naidoo

Photo credit: Nimmi Naidoo

Below ground, utricularias have bladder traps attached to the roots. These ensnare aquatic invertebrates, sucking them in by creating a vacuum.

Utricularia reniformis

Many of these species are threatened in the wild. Some of the issues faced are over collection for the horticultural trade, rapid development and land drainage.