Carnivorous Plants for Inquisitive Minds
I think we would all agree that children love the unusual, the weirder the better and they don’t come much weirder than carnivorous plants. These are the insect-eating wonders of the plant world which, because of their inability to take in nutrients via their roots, have evolved to trap and digest insects in various ways. It isn’t just children that find these plants so fascinating but they are a great introduction into the plant world for those inquisitive minds eager to learn.
The “Venus Fly Trap” (Dionaea Muscipula) will be a name familiar to most people and is the one carnivorous plant that is generally instantly recognisable. Children are naturally amazed by the way the “traps” are triggered into closing around an insect when it lands on the plant. Juices within the traps then set about digesting the insect, the traps re-opening when this process is complete. If your children become too eager to keep setting the traps off by poking something into the middle of them, try and encourage them to drop in a dead fly instead because the traps will blacken and die if they are triggered too often artificially without receiving any food. .
Another carnivorous plant to look out for is Drosera (“Sundew”). which holds its insect captive within its sticky leaves. Other sticky-leaved varieties include Pinguicula which has broader, flatter leaves than the more delicate looking sundews.
“Pitcher plants” (Nepanthes) are perhaps the weirdest of the insect-eaters with long tubes which lure the unsuspecting insects in to their doom. When they fall to the bottom of the tube there is no escape and the plants digestive juices set to work on their meal.
Give these insect-eaters a go and I bet it won’t be just the children that become fascinated by them.