Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 5
October 2008
Spooky Plants for Halloween
Halloween is just around the corner, which provides a good excuse to explore the world of weird and scary plants. These particular plants often exist in harsh environments or require specific pollinators. They rely on their strange attributes for survival.

Carnivorous plants are perhaps the most gruesomely fascinating to people, if the fact that there are more than 30 carnivorous plant societies around the world is anything to go by. Carnivorous plants "eat" insects and small
  Venus flytrap
An example of a pitcher plant (Sarracenia sp.).

organisms to obtain nutrients, such as nitrogen, that they cannot draw from the soil in their environment, which is often boggy.

And they have developed several cunning ways to catch and consume their prey. For example, sundews (Drosera sp.) are one of several kinds of "sticky-flypaper" plants. At the ends of long tentacles on their leaves are glands that hold nectar, digestive juices and glue-like substances. Insects attracted to the nectar land on the tentacles, are trapped by the glue and are dispatched with the digestive enzymes.

Other plants have built-in passive traps. As suggested by its name, the leaves of the North American pitcher plant (Sarracenia sp.) form a pitcher-like shape. Insects can crawl in, but slippery sides and downward-facing hairs prevent them from crawling out. The pitcher is also too narrow for flying insects to escape. Once marooned at the bottom of the pitcher, prey is digested in a fluid containing enzymes.
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