|Pitcher plant (Nepenthes muluensis)|
Until recently, scientists were aware of five basic trapping mechanisms found in carnivorous plants: snap traps (like the Venus fly trap), pitfall traps (pitcher plants), sticky mucilage traps (sundews), bladder traps that suck in prey (bladderworts), and lobster pot traps with inward-pointing hairs (corkscrew plants).
Researchers have just found a sixth mechanism that is peculiar to pitfall-trap Nepenthes spp. and Sarracenia spp. and the snap-trap Dionaea muscipula. They glow!
So why hasn’t anyone noticed this before? Because no one could see it. The light is in the ultraviolet range and is therefore not visible to the unassisted human eye. Put these plants under a black light, though, and voilà, they fluoresce. In the photo at left, I've marked in purple the fluorescent area of a pitcher plant.
To the insect eye, these plants glow naturally. Given the wily nature of carnivorous plants, it’s not surprising that this glow is located at the entrance to the trap, serving as a bull’s-eye target that insects happily hone in on.
Makes one wonder what plants will think of next.
Other Trapping Plants Listed Above
|Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula)||Sundew (Drosera anglica) with prey|
|Bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris)||Corkscrew plant (Genlisea violacea)|
All photos are courtesy of wikipedia.org and are used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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