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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about...Carnivorous plants.


CURWOOD: The International Carnivorous Plant Society meets May 29 in Bonn, Germany, to share news on all manner of meat-eating vegetation. Botanists at the city's university recently solved the mystery of the Genlisea. The plant had all the signs of being a trap, except, well, no one ever saw it catch anything. Researchers recently discovered it actually prefers microscopic animals over insects. The best-known insectivore, of course, is the Venus Flytrap. It lures insects with the sweet smell of its nectar and then snaps shut, trapping its prey behind its teeth. It takes about a week for the Flytrap to digest its prize. Other carnivorous plants include sundews, bladder worts, and pitcher plants. One variety, the Cobra Lily, bears an uncanny resemblance to the hooded snake. Now, the carnivorous plant with the biggest appetite is the Nepenthes. Its foot-long, bottle-shaped appendages have been known to snare frogs, and occasionally a small bird or rodent. Contrary to some sci-fi films, carnivorous plants pose no threat to humans, or at least science has yet to document any plants eating people. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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