“Lethal Leaves” – Part Four


Notice the prey inside the trap. (Photo credit – Alamy)

The most fascinating aspect of insectivore plants is their beautifully adapted trap designs, the machinery for capturing animals. These traps consist of leaves that have been conspicuously modified to attract, ensnare, and devour prey. Even though plants have no muscles, some carnivorous plants display astonishing movement to capture insects. Traps that move to complete the capture are called “active,” whereas the traps that are stationary and depend only on their prey’s motion are classified as “passive.” The fastest moving of all the trap designs is the “bladder traps,” balloon-like leaves that suck in small organisms using a vacuum mechanism!

The aquatic bladderwort (see picture) closes the trap’s door and then pumps water out of trap’s interior. When the external sensory trigger hairs on the trapdoor are mechanically stimulated by a moving object, the trapdoor opens within milliseconds, causing strong inflow that sucks in the prey like water fleas or small tadpoles, and then closes again. The opening time of the bladder trapdoor is the fastest recorded motion in plants. Over the life of the bladderwort, one biological trapdoor will undergo over 100 such rapid buckling-unbuckling cycles. “What hath God wrought!” (Numbers 23:23).

Posted on November 2, 2016 by dwoetzel.

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