What’s the most effective carnivorous plant? A plant which greatly benefits from the insects it catches, carnivorous plants get their name from a specific kind of plant which does just that- eats other carnivorous plants. Carnivorous plants share some basic characteristics with other plant species which feed on other insects, but all carnivorous plants have one distinguishing feature: they secrete digestive enzymes which digest and break down their prey. In fact, the myth of carnivorous plants was immortalized in the classic 1986 American rock and roll film…
“Monkey Cups” is the quintessential example of a truly carnivorous plant. The star of the movie (and the very first movie in the United States, actually) is a gigantic monkey cup that collects and eats other monkeys. It may sound preposterous, but believe it or not, this monstrosity actually exists in nature. The leaves of this particular plant have a very thin outer shell, which allows it to hide in plain sight. These leaves are actually poisonous to humans, so the monkeys which are drawn to the plant get bit instead of swallowed whole. The cup is also able to trap prey much bigger than itself; it has been known to catch swarms of insects in its mug.
One of the more ordinary-looking carnivorous plants on this list is the butterwort. Commonly found in damp fields and woodlands, this plant is often confused with the common garden spider, which is also sometimes called the “butterfly spider.” But there are clear distinctions between the two. The former tends to grow only in damp habitats with decaying organic materials, like bark and brush, while the latter prefers shady areas. It does not have very sharp spines, unlike the tailed paperfish, but it does possess a highly poisonous venom, which is injected through its mouth.
Another common carnivorous plant on this list is the getty tree. A member of the salicylate family, these plants usually grow in wetland areas, although it is not uncommon to find them growing in drier fields and woodlands as well. As its name suggests, this plant contains a lot of resin, which attracts insects, and it can be found growing on the underside of leaves, shoots, and roots of almost any other vegetation.
While the resin-coated leaves of the getty tree look quite benign, they are actually highly toxic to many animals. This is primarily due to the fact that salicylates are a group of chemicals that are poisonous when ingested. Among the insects that can be repelled by the foliage of the getty tree include the red-winged teal, whitemarsh, milkweed, golden stonecrop, and woodruff.
While the resin from salicylates is poisonous, the leaves contain an even more poisonous compound called salicylate thioglycolate, which is particularly lethal to birds. In fact, birds will not touch milkweed and will not be deterred from nesting in salicylate trees. The name “milkweed” comes from the fact that milkweed plants produce a white sap that can make birds sick if it is ingested. It has long been known that milkweed plants are a major problem for birds and other wildlife. Removing them, therefore, can greatly help wildlife.
Carnivores, or carnivorous plants and animals, are a diverse group. Members of this group differ in diet and life cycle but have generally retained their basic structure. Carnivores must consume meat to survive, and while they often enjoy plants as well (as with salicylates), they prefer the flesh of their prey. A few examples of carnivores include lions, tigers, hyenas, wolves, mice, deer, eagles, coyotes, bobcats, etc. Many carnivores are members of the salicylate family.
The parts of plants that carnivores commonly eat include the bark, stems, foliage, seeds, roots, and sap. Each member of the salicylate family has both a poisonous and non-poisonous substance. An example of a plant that contains salicylate is milkweed, which contains salicylates as well as other toxic chemicals. Milkweed is popular for killing other insects, such as moles. In addition, some plants, such as the milkweed family, have strong toxic chemical characteristics.