Sunday, September 10, 2006

Insects Beware!


There are many types of plants that thrive in the woods of the Big Thicket, but one of the coolest is the pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea). What appears to be a delicate plant is really a meat-eater in disguise. Of the 5 types of carnivorous plants found in the U.S. (pitcher plant, sundew, bladderwort, butterwort, and venus fly-trap) all but one, the venus fly-trap is found in the Big Thicket. The pitcher plant contains nectar glands which secrete an odiferous nectar that lures its prey into the "pitcher" of the plant.
The attracted insect descends down inside the plant looking for the source of this sweet odor.
Now this is where it gets interesting. On the inside walls of the plant grow tiny hairs that point downwards. This prevents prey from retreating causeing them to trip and fall into the plants "stomach" where they drown and then are broken down by the plant's digestive juices. Sometimes what appears to be delicate can be deadly.

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