Carnivorous Plant Gardening: How To Grow A Carnivorous Garden Outside
In the world today there are many different types of plants. Some are edible, some medicinal, and others poisonous. There are also other kinds of plants which do not belong to any kind of category. For example, there is another type of plant called carnivores (or herbivores).
These plants have been known since ancient times for their ability to eat anything they want, including humans! They are very useful creatures, but they need food too. If you don’t provide them with it, they will die out.
There are many species of carnivorous plants in nature. Among these are the following:
Sarracenia spp.: Sarracenia means “sweet” in Latin and refers to the fact that these plants produce sweet smelling flowers when pollinated by certain insects or birds. The most common species is S. officinalis.
Other names include the Sweetheart, Redbud, and Black Beauty.
The genus name sarracenia comes from the Latin word “sarra”, meaning sweet and “cena”, referring to the flower itself.
Some of these plants are used medicinally because they contain high amounts of flavonoids, substances that have antioxidant properties.
They are also used for cooking and in the manufacturing of various foods.
It is interesting to note that Sarracenia species have evolved in such a way that they get most of their nutrients from insects and not from other kinds of meat or organic material.
They catch the insects with their specialized pitcher shaped leaves that act as small pools of rainwater. It is here where the insects drown and their bodies later feed the plant.
The nutrients in the insects are then passed on to the plant and their bodies are broken down into a rich fertilizer for the soil.
The Sarracenia family is comprised of around nineteen species, including the subspecies.
It is widely distributed across the eastern seaboard and the entire Southern region of the US.
It can also be found in Eastern Canada as well as Northeastern Mexico.
Sarracenia grow best in open, partially shaded areas at the edge of forests, swamps, and meadows.
They cannot survive in full sunlight or in extremely dry conditions so they tend to thrive where other plants cannot.
The Sarracenia family has three subspecies which are: S. purpurea, S. alata, and S. Levenensis.
The most common is S. purpurea, also known as the purple pitcher plant.
This is the largest carnivorous plant in North America. Most pitchers grow from three to five inches long, but some of their kind can grow up to ten!
The mouth of the pitcher is lined with downward pointing hairs and an inward pointing membrane.
When an insect or spider crawling along the ground accidentally fall inside, it cannot crawl back out because of these features.
The sweet smelling nectar at the bottom of the pitcher lures the insect deeper into the plant’s interior.
As long as it keeps drinking, it won’t realize that it is slowly sliding down the tube into the pitcher’s stomach, which contains a clear, liquid filled with digestive enzymes.
This liquid can dissolve flesh, furs, and exoskeletons and turn them into nutrients for the plant.
Sources & references used in this article:
The savage garden, revised: Cultivating carnivorous plants by P D’amato – 2013 – books.google.com
Resolving phylogenetic relationships of the recently radiated carnivorous plant genus Sarracenia using target enrichment by JD Stephens, WL Rogers, K Heyduk… – Molecular Phylogenetics …, 2015 – Elsevier
Carnivorous plants of the United States and Canada. by DE Schnell – 2002 – cabdirect.org
‘Sweet but dangerous’: nectaries in carnivorous plants by BJ Plachno – Acta Agrobotanica, 2007 – yadda.icm.edu.pl
The carnivorous plants by FE Lloyd – 2011 – books.google.com