Invasion of Flesh-Eating Plants

I love my B grade horror movies like the “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. These movies are so bad and full of genre cliches that they are superbly fun. I just enjoy yelling at the characters in the movie things like, “Look out behind” or “Stay away from the water!” or even “Don’t go down to the basement!”

Following up on Halloween, I thought of writing about flesh-eating plants. Even though “Invasion of Flesh-Eating Plants”, may seem like a good title for a B grade horror movie, I am actually writing about bog plants which are specially adapted to the low nitrogen levels in such environments. These plants are specially adapted to catch insects, digest them and to get the nitrogen they need from such sources.

During my recent trip to Australia, I had the opportunity to visit Mount Tomah Botanic Garden which is located 1000metres above sea level and is nestled within the world heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains area. The garden contains over 40,000 plants arranged according to geographical location and is home to a large variety of native wildlife. It also had a wonderful artificially created bog which housed a collection of these wonderfully strange plants.

This first beauty is the famous Venus Fly Trap (Dioneae muscipola). It is actually very small. The specimen in this picture was probably about just 2 inches across. If however, you encountered one that was about 8 feet tall, then you would have a close approximation to the fiendish plant from the musical/comedy-horror show, “Little Shop of Horrors”.

This second photo is of a plant that is found in most parts of Australia except Northern Territories and is called Fairy Aprons (Utricularia dichomata) and it’s small traps are said to resemble ladies purses.

This final one is one of my favorites and is a species of Sundew (Drosera). The insects are attracted to the red, sticky glogs at the end of the hairs and are trapped. The leaves then curl inwards and the insect slowly digested.

(All photos by LGS)

They make great pets, don’t cha think?


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