“Lethal Leaves” – Part One

Darwin & PlantsAnimals are commonly divided into plant-eating herbivores and meat-eating carnivores. Herbivores are typically thought of as the harmless animals that dominate controlled environments like farms, while the carnivores are thought of as wild, aggressive animals, the stuff of fictional thrillers and gripping Hollywood scenes. In any case, the plants themselves are almost never thought of as the aggressors. It is well known that plants utilize a diversity of defenses against herbivores, from spikes to noxious chemicals. It is not as commonly known that over 630 species of carnivorous plants have been discovered, spanning multiple orders. Charles Darwin himself was fascinated by meat-eating plants and wrote an 1875 volume Insectovorous Plants. Over the next several months we will explore this topsy-turvy world, noting especially the five distinct trap mechanisms employed by carnivorous plants: pitfall traps, flypaper traps, bladder traps, corkscrew traps, and snap traps!

Posted on August 1, 2016 by dwoetzel.

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