Carnivorous plant

Carnivorous plant

Carnivorous plant

The term carnivorous plant is one of those phrases concerning plants that most manage to whet our imagination; in fact, there are many legends, stories, novels and films dealing with these plants that we could actually define as wonderful examples of how nature is extraordinarily capable of adapting to any situation that presents itself before it, sometimes with solutions to say the least unimaginable and apparently impossible. Let's start with the explanation that carnivorous plants they are nothing more than plants, which have opted for the collection of the nutrients necessary for their survival through the digestion of insects and other small animals instead of from the soil on which they live (we will see later why this apparently inexplicable choice). First of all, around 900 species of carnivorous plants are known and classified in the world, then grouped into something like 12 genera and 5 large families; from this it can be deduced, in particular from the diversity of even families, that there are carnivorous plants that are also very different from each other for various characteristics. To these 900 species we must add about another 300 which are defined protocarnivorous plants because they have only some characteristics that bind them to true carnivorous plants.


Origin

We are sure that everyone is wondering why plants, even in some ways pretty, have decided to become carnivores, abandoning the "normal" vegetable kingdom and the peaceful coexistence that distinguishes it; it is a very normal question, which already illustrious scientists such as Charles Darwin tried to answer around the middle of the nineteenth century (in particular Darwin wrote the first treatise on it, also proving a classification). The first, however, who called them "carnivore" came only in 1942 and was called Lloyd; this scientist carried out many studies on these plants and transformed the old denomination of "insectivore" into "carnivore" because I note that they did not eat only insects (the classic example of the fly) but also arthropods and other unfortunate small animals. From the many studies that have been conducted on carnivorous plants, it has emerged that they were born and raised in areas where the habitat and the soil in particular were and are lacking in those nutrients essential to the normal development of a plant; not surprisingly, in nature carnivorous plants they are found near peat bogs, marshes and outcropping rocks, or rather desolate landscapes populated by very little life. An element that is particularly lacking in these soils is nitrogen, such a fundamental component of the diet of the plant world that it is one of the major constituents of our artificial fertilizers. But how could plants get nitrogen? Well, you need to know that nitrogen can easily be obtained from proteins, and in nature proteins are widespread in insects, which are really rich in it. From here it was easy to follow the path of an adaptation that saw the gradual but inexorable transformation of leaves and flowers into more or less ingenious and more or less effective traps that are useful for capturing insects. The solutions that the various species of carnivorous plants have found to create these traps are of the most diverse, but in particular we can note that all species concentrate their energies and vital forces in the development and maintenance of these hunting organs and those organs which then have the task of digesting and extrapolating nitrogen and all other necessary components from the prey; for this reason a characteristic of carnivorous plants is the reduced extension of the roots, which have more the task of physically supporting the plant than that of feeding it, also because we have already said that one of the reasons that induced the development of carnivorous plants is precisely that soils poor in nutrients, so large roots could not have supplied much matter to the plant itself. Let's say that carnivorous plants are for the most part perennials, although there are some species with annual or seasonal life (more rare). Due to their particular development, carnivorous plants are weak compared to normal plants; we want to say that, should a transformed and normalized environment arise with respect to the one in which they proliferate and that we have previously described, they cannot survive and quickly disappear to make room for the growth of more conventional plants.


Types of trap

Readers will agree that the most interesting part to know, study and appreciate about carnivorous plants is the way in which they manage to capture their prey. Scientists have long debated on the possible classifications of these plants, finally arriving at such a list: ascidium traps, sticky traps, snap or leg traps, suction traps, pot traps. Now let's see what are the main features and the best examples for each grouping.


Trap to ascidium

The ascidian trap is a trap that sees the modification of the leaves of the plant, which join together at the edges and roll up to form a small container in which insects enter and for various techniques are no longer able to get out; remaining trapped there, they are subjected to the digestive action of the plant's secretions. There are four major groups of these ascidian traps, and we analyze them. The Heliamphora are the simplest examples of the ascidian trap, as the leaves are folded and welded at the edges, producing a serum that attracts insects (together with the typically floral color) but also prevents them from escaping; once blocked, exclusively bacterial enzymes intervene which will decompose the insect and then release those substances such as nitrogen and others that the plant will use to live. Evolution has also created a "drain" hole in the terminal part of the container which serves to eliminate rain and unnecessary debris that inevitably collect in this natural container. The Sarracenia is an evolution of the Heliamphora, because it has the same capture mechanism, with two improvements: a duct that wraps itself downwards and therefore prevents the entry of rain, and a series of digestive enzymes not only bacterial that are able to assimilate many more nutrients and much more complex than the bacterial digestives of the progenitor. The other two types of this grouping include a cap that snaps at the entrance of the insect to close every escape route, while the other sees an evolution of what happens for example in some Bromeliaceae, or the formation between the narrow pineapple leaves of a small pond where insects and small animals accidentally fall and where there is not only water they rain but also immobilizing poisons and enzymes secreted by the plant.


Sticky trap

The adhesive trap is a trap that sees the production of a mucilage by the plant, that is a gelatinous and slimy substance that, depending on the various species, can literally glue the legs of the insect to the plant or can immobilize it by poisoning it and starting to digest it. . The queen of this grouping is Drosera: it has been endowed by the evolutionary processes with mobile tentacles secreting the aforementioned "glue" which feel the arrival and contact with the insect and manage with a certain speed to fold to bring more material and make sure that there is no more escape for the unfortunate customer.


Snap trap

The snap trap is that type of trap of carnivorous plants that has made them so famous in the world, it is a mechanism not yet well understood by scientists that sees the plant respond to the contact of an insect by closing the appropriately shaped leaves and forming a impossible to reopen sac in which digestion takes place. The two main species of this grouping are Dionaea and Aldrovanda. Both see their leaves formed by two symmetrical lobes hinged to the stem, apparently totally normal except for the lashes placed on the sides. As soon as an insect goes to lean on them, these leaves close and the more the insect struggles, the more they will close hermetically until they seal and secrete powerful enzymes that will totally digest the animal in 7 - 15 days. There is also an incredible timed mechanism to prevent accidental closure for example due to rain or falling debris which sees the leaves reopen in a few hours if the internal stimulation is not repeated for a few continuous minutes (comparable with the strenuous resistance of the insect trapped).


Suction trap

The suction trap is a trap that exploits the forced escape of water from the plant bag in order to create a slight vacuum inside; outside the bag there are hairs that feel the arrival of an insect by contact and activate the opening of a small mouth which will then put the bag in contact under slight pressure with the external environment at ambient pressure and this causes a suction in the bag of what is in the immediate vicinity of the mouth, or rather the insect.


Trap trap

The pot trap sees the modification of a leaf of the plant to resemble a capital Y; inside the Y, however, there are hairs that stick the insect that rests on it and push it towards the center of the Y where there is a small mouth that secretes digestive enzymes and makes sure to obtain as many nutrients as possible.


Advice

Administer demineralized water and in particular without calcium which quickly kills the plant; place the pot in a humid and sunny place, possibly open; put the plant in deliberately poor soil to encourage trapping and not feeding the small roots.


Curiosity

The world of carnivorous plants fascinates, intrigues, enchants. This particular type of plant has always been an object of interest for authors of books, novels, magazines and horror and adventure films. In fact, in the novels he speaks of plants with a rare ability to attack man, to imprison him, to put him to the test of his strength or in danger of life. In these stories, carnivorous plants are all characterized by the fact that they are disproportionate in size and are even larger than humans. All rumors? Certainly yes, but these curious plants really have peculiar characteristics: they could in fact be used as natural remedies effective against small insects such as flies, bees and mosquitoes often present during the summer in abundance in all our homes and beyond.


The carnivorous plant dionea

The dionea muscipula is one of the best known and appreciated carnivores by all lovers of this genus of plants. Part of its success and fame are most likely due to the particular shapes of this plant which in some ways resembles a wide open mouth thanks to its opening and the thorns it bears on the ends of the two leaves.

The carnivorous plant Dionea muscipula is also known by the name of Venus flytrap due to the particular characteristics of its leaves. The modified leaves of this plant are in fact equipped with special cells that as soon as they perceive the presence of an insect trigger a snap closure mechanism to trap small prey. The leaves perceive the presence of insects through the very small pressure they exert on the leaf surface.

Once the insects have been captured, the plant is able to absorb the nutrients present inside them, leaving the skeleton that it drops after reopening the two opposite leaves.




Carnivorous plant - garden

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That's why we should have a carnivorous plant on the balcony

Let's try to understand something more about this particular plant. Carnivorous plants have the peculiarity of attracting and trapping insects of all kinds within their "eyelashes". Mosquitoes, flies, bedbugs, butterflies, moths in contact with the carnivorous plant have their destiny sealed. Once the insects are trapped, plants kill and digest them

Perhaps Giacomo Leopardi was a little right when he spoke of nature as a grim mother. Yet it is a more than legitimate (if one can say so) process in the food chain.

This process is the result of an adaptation of carnivorous plants to particular types of environments. In habitats such as swamps, peat bogs, or rocks, there is a strong acidity that does not allow this species to receive the nutrients necessary to survive, such as nitrogen.

Therefore, to supplement nitrogen, plants make use of the animal proteins contained in phagocytosed insects. But it is not only insects that fall victim to this ruthless prototype of creation. The aims of carnivorous plants also include small arthropods or small animals.

If we intend to keep the balcony tidy, preventing insects from entering the house, however, this type of plant can come in handy. That's why we should have a carnivorous plant on the balcony.


Saturday Supercade

In the famous episode Greenhouse Gorilla, which stars Mario and Stanley together as allies, the first carnivorous plant of the series appears.

The pride of the Stanley Greenhouse is Herman, a carnivorous plant that is stolen by a certain Mr. X. Donkey Kong finds the Plant in his hands and a solid friendship is born between the two that Mr. X uses to his advantage. Mario, Pauline and Stanley team up to find their fugitives and, as always, the thief is stopped and his stolen goods returned but DK always manages to escape.

Luigi's Mansion 2

The Carnivorous Plant appears here for the first time in the games. In the Gloomy Towers he makes his first appearance in level B-1 in the Nursery and returns to the Villa Villana, in the kitchen of level E-2. 2 also appear in one of the paranormal mini dimensions. Unlike other enemies, it cannot be sucked in, it can only be blinded. The Carnivorous Plant is fought by aiming a green spiny ball (or a fiery roast chicken in the case of level E-2) into their mouths. If Luigi stands still in front of it, he will be eaten, but if he moves inside his mouth quickly he can get out, even if he will lose energy. If, on level E-2 of Villa Villana, the Carnivorous Plant eats one of the two Toads, it will suffocate and spit it out.

Donkey Kong Country Returns & Tropical Freeze

In Returns a type of Carnivorous Plants appears: the Yumans (in mega, mushroom, spore and climbing form).

In Tropical Freeze there are Carnivorous Plants in Bouncy Brambles that Cranky can evade bites. There is also the Veined Carnivorous Plant which acts as an elevator and behaves like the Twomps.


Cephalotus follicularis | Rare carnivorous plant difficult to grow

Cephalotus is a small plant native to Australia, it belongs to the Cephalotaceae family and to the Cephalotus genus, the only representative of this genus.

Cephalotus is not easy to cultivate and requires care and attention, but of course its growth is able to give great satisfaction.

The carnivorous plant maintains very small dimensions: usually the size varies from five to eight centimeters.

The Cephalotus follicularis it is perhaps the only plant that produces both carnivorous leaves and normal leaves. In young plants, the non-carnivorous leaves perform the function of photosynthesis and compensate for the lack of active ascidia in some periods.

Ascidia are, in carnivorous plants, leaves that have transformed into traps capable of capturing and digesting small insects.

Usually they are leaves that have curled up to become a sort of small sac or funnel with three well-defined characteristics: a means to attract prey, a system to imprison them, preventing them from escaping, and an apparatus rich in gastric juices to digest the victims. .

In Cephalotus, the ascidia are complex sac-shaped organs, provided with apical opercula with the ability to close in the hottest hours to prevent digestive juices from evaporating.

The edge of the ascidia is slippery and does not allow insects or small animals that lean on it to grip with their legs, so that they are forced to slide inside. The prey is attracted by the pollen and hormones produced by the glands located under the slippery gills and under the apical operculum. Escape is made impossible by the funnel-shaped structure of the ascidian.

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Climate and exposure

Cephalotus lives on the South West coasts of Australia, but some plants vegetate in the innermost areas. The latter differ from coastal specimens for the type of rooting.

The climate of its area of ​​origin is in many ways similar to the Mediterranean climate, with summers reaching 28 degrees and rather harsh and humid winters. Cephalotus resists temperatures hovering around zero.

The sunny position is pleasant for the plant, but it is better to avoid the sun in the middle of the day during the hottest months.

Young plants can be kept in a terrarium for one winter so they can develop better, but this treatment should not be repeated for more than a season.

The Cephalotus needs a certain period of rest in the cold to thrive with the vegetative restart in spring.

Ideal soil for Cephalotus

The most suitable substrate is half peat and half perlite. In nature, the soil where Cephalotus thrives is composed of sphagnum, peat and sand, but this plant is not particularly demanding regarding the nature of the soil. What is important is that the pH is around 4.5 and that there are optimal drainage and humidity conditions.

The Cephalotus that live along the coasts of Australia have roots that go a couple of tens of centimeters into the soil, while, moving inland where the substrate is less rich in sand, they reach even more than forty centimeters deep.

If the optimal conditions of acidity and humidity are guaranteed, Cephalotus can also be grown in pure sphagnum only or in pure peat only.

The pH must not fall below the value of 4, or the roots will suffer from excessive acidity.

Irrigation

The best irrigation for Cephalotus is obtained by putting water in the saucer, then proceeding by watering from the bottom. One centimeter of water is given, it is allowed to dry up and only after this has happened is more water added.

Short periods with dry substrate are useful, from time to time, to allow the roots to assimilate nutrients from the soil.

Observation of the Cephalotus ascidia can indicate if the plant is thirsty: these, in fact, close when there is no water supply or when it is too hot.

It is not recommended to wet from above.

Fertilization

The Cephalotus takes nutrients, as well as from the soil, from the digestion of prey. It has been noted that help in this sense can lead to more luxuriant and healthier plants. Specifically, ants are a prey that supplies the plant with formic acid which, in turn, leads to the production of more powerful and effective digestive juices.

Cephalotus enthusiasts and cultivation experts have noticed that a calibrated and well-dosed supply of milk is very welcome to the plant, which absorbs it easily and benefits from it.

Flowering

Cephalotus blooms, in nature, with small white flowers that occur from one to five on plants with at least three years of age, in late spring.

In forced cultivation, the production of flowers, without an adequate nutritional supply, tends to significantly weaken the plants.

Propagation

The multiplication of Cephalotus can take place by seed, by division or by leaf, ascidian or root cutting.

The technique that involves the use of seeds is perhaps the most complex. First of all, the flower must be pollinated with a small brush, to allow the production of seeds to take place in autumn. These must be kept at a temperature of 2 ° for a couple of months, resting on the substrate and slightly covered by sphagnum.

The temperature is then raised to 20 ° and is always kept humid at this point it can take from two months to a year for the seeds to germinate.

Propagation by division takes place above all when the plant is affected by fungal diseases such as iodine, or when it is very luxuriant and expanded, so it should be separated.

To carry out this operation, a part of the main rhizome is cut off and repotted, treating it with all the attention reserved for adult specimens.

Leaf, ascidium or root cuttings lead in a relatively short time to obtaining new plants. We proceed by cutting these parts and placing them in a sphagnum or peat substrate, the parts will root in a short time and give life to new plants in a few months.

Illnesses

Cephalotus is not easily attacked by parasites, but if this happens it can be treated with a specific product.

Approximately once a month, it is advisable to carefully clean the plants by eliminating, even with the help of tweezers, dried leaves and ascidia, in order to allow the whole to be well ventilated.

The combination of excessive heat, humidity and stagnation can lead to fungal diseases in the summer.

Powdery mildew and botrytis fight each other by spraying the plant with soluble sulfur, being careful to spray the plant and not the soil.

Pythium is a very deleterious fungus for Cephalotus, also caused by the factors listed above. It affects roots and rhizome and the plant becomes shriveled, dehydrated and nearly rotten. Realizing the problem in time, the remedy is to cut all the infected parts, eliminating them, to try to save at least a part of the plant.

Cephalotus cultivation tips

To be able to have Cephalotus in good health, it is advisable to carefully observe their specimens. These plants have small "personal" preferences regarding exposure to light, sun and irrigation. Some specimens tolerate sunlight very well, while others like a slight penumbra. Starting from the latter situation, it is possible to progressively move the plants towards greater lighting and observe their reactions, to understand their actual preferences.

In the winter months, exposure to sunlight and ventilation are essential to avoid problems.

Good aeration of Cephalotus plants, combined with the correct humidity, prevents and minimizes the fungal diseases that can affect it.

Experts cultivate Cephalotus by creating small mounds of substrate in the pots and placing the seedlings at the top of these, so that the ascidia can develop in the way that is most congenial to them.

Fans of carnivorous plants find in the cultivation of Cephalotus a challenge that can be rich in satisfactions.


Carnivorous plant Cephalotus follicularis you can find it in the Categories:

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Video: 食虫植物. 理芽 - Carnivorous Plant. RIM Official Music Video #08