There are many bizarre and creepy plants out there, but Carnivorous Plants may just take the cake. These plants form symbiotic relationships with other species of animals (usually insects) in order to extract their nutrients. In return, the plant provides shelter and protection for the insect while it feeds off of its blood.
While this relationship might sound a bit macabre, some Carnivorous Plant species actually feed on fruit rather than Insects! This means that they consume something other than Animal Blood which makes them a little more palatable to humans. So, do carnivorous plants eat humans?
There are around 1000 different species worldwide – but mainly 13 species of carnivorous plants that exist here. All species are strictly protected. But carnivorous plants are also grown in nurseries on a large scale, so you can buy them legally in many garden centers, although keeping them is not easy
What do they usually eat?
Most carnivorous plants feed on small animals such as insects or spiders. In nature, carnivorous plants feed on small insects. And that must also be guaranteed when it comes to housing. Food leftovers, dead insects, or the like are difficult for carnivorous plants to digest and can start to mold. Live insects, thanks to their movements, stimulate the digestion of the plant.
In the tropics, however, there are also a few species that like it one size larger. Nepenthes rajah, the scientific name of a species of carnivorous pitcher plant found only in a small area of the island of Borneo, is one of two carnivorous plants that occasionally feast on a small mammal.
This is made possible by their comparatively huge leaves, which have been converted into very effective, pitcher-like pitfalls. The traps contain several liters of digestive juice in which their victims, up to the size of a rat, drown and are then digested. The plants lure their prey with scents that can smell pleasantly of sweet nectar, but also of carrion.
Different types of traps for hunting
The carnivorous plants work with five different types of traps. There are sticky traps, snap traps, pots, slide traps, and suction traps. However, the principle of the trap is always the same: the prey is caught in the trap (e.g. in the well-known Venus flytrap with a folding trap) and decomposed by digestive juices.
The food pulp created by this process is then absorbed by the plant. All that remains of the insect is the indigestible chitin shell. The food pulp created by this process is then absorbed by the plant. All that remains of the insect is the indigestible chitin shell.
All plants attract prey in different ways. Some have an intense scent, others produce a liquid that smells like nectar but stuns prey, and some use bright colors to attract prey.
How to care for carnivorous plants
• Keeping carnivorous plants in your home is not easy. Because they are real little princesses and demanding. Above all, carnivorous plants need a high humidity of at least 40 (Venus flytraps) to 80 percent (pitcher plants). It is best to get a hydrometer to check this.
Especially in winter, our rooms are much too dry thanks to heated air with 20 percent humidity or even less.
• Carnivorous plants need hibernation. They keep them best at low temperatures of four to ten degrees. The basement or attic is a suitable place. Now the carnivorous plant only needs a little water. In late spring, the plant can then be used to warmer temperatures again and should sprout quickly and vigorously again
• Under no circumstances should you try to feed the little plants with flies for the sheer fun of it. Too much is too much. This also applies to carnivorous plants. If you occasionally give your Venus flytrap a tiny piece of cheese or a morsel of meat with tweezers, you are doing more than enough to balance the nutrient balance of your leafy offspring.
• The right location in the home is also essential for carnivorous plants. They need a lot of light and therefore a bright place. If they don’t get enough light, they stop producing their traps and produce long shoots and leaves instead.
Do Carnivorous Plants Eat Humans?
Now the main question arises. Does the carnivorous plant also go to snap at your finger if you hold it out? After all, meat is meat, right? But actually, there is something to it. Of the thousand or so carnivorous plant species known worldwide, there are quite a few that eat rodents or frogs. Why shouldn’t they have an appetite for human flesh? The only reason, one thinks, that humans don’t fit into the carnivorous plant prey scheme is because of their size and strength.
Of course, that’s true. Because we would fight back. As quickly as the plant snaps shut with its trap, the finger would be pulled out again – and the tender little plant would be trampled flat immediately afterward.
Yes, from the point of view of an ant or a fly, carnivorous plants are merciless hide hunters, but they are also delicate, sensitive creatures: almost without exception, they only grow with a lot of light, with a lot of water, and they don’t like it at all when the ground is underneath them is as fat and nutritious as carrots or our fruit trees like it to be. So they sit patiently in their niche in the countryside and wait until a prey animal gets into their clutches.
how do their traps work?
The Venus Flytrap is a prime example of a successful meat lover. In nurseries and even in hardware stores, it is one of the smallest, but certainly one of the most spectacular plants. A real carnivore, that’s what specialists call meat eaters. The catch leaf is their visiting card: bright red on the inside and the outer edges like an open mouth with long, pointed bristles. With this catch leaf, which can snap shut, the plants sense and catch their prey.
Of course, the plant doesn’t see its victim, including the finger when we put it in the trap. But she feels them. In addition, it has feeler bristles in the middle of each of the leaf halves. Only when these sensitive bristles are touched twice in quick succession and send an electrical signal to the other parts of the leaf trap, do the joints move and the trap snaps shut. Within seconds.
Once the trap is closed, the leaves turn into a seething green stomach. But more has to happen: the living flesh has to panic. As the prey repeatedly bends and thus activates the sensory bristles, fifty times or more, the trap produces hormones inside and ultimately the enzymes for digestion. Inside the leaves are the glands that produce acidic juice with many aggressive digestive enzymes. Slowly, but relentlessly, they liquefy the prey, allowing the plant to absorb the nutrients—particularly vital nitrogen.
But all these would not be a real danger for our careless but big finger.
And yet there are at least two other reasons why the carnivorous plant won’t spurn the finger: firstly, the Venus flytrap cannot close its leaf trap with a big finger on it and secondly, the little bit of digestive juice would not liquefy our flesh so easily. Unless we were even smaller than Tom Thumbs. Then the plants would be treacherous monsters.
what can you feed carnivorous plants?
You should never give leftover food or other meat products to your carnivorous plants. These can not be digested or only with great difficulty. This endangers the plant.
In principle, only feed live insects, as their movements stimulate the digestion of the plant. Otherwise, the small animals cannot be digested and will begin to rot.
Also, make sure that the fed insects are not too big.
Feel free to give a carnivorous plant a piece of cheese instead of a fly—or just feed it well with a nitrogenous fertilizer. A carnivorous plant can also survive well with this “substitute food”.