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15 Incredible Meat-Eating Plants

Updated July 21, 2020 58 votes 14 voters15 items

List RulesVote up the most fascinating plants that eat insects and animals.

Of all the many types of plant life on Earth, carnivorous plants are some of the most fascinating. Instead of getting their nutrients from the soil like normal plants, they evolved to trap and dissolve insects, which they break up and use as a source of nutrients. They do derive their energy from the sun via photosynthesis, but other than that, they're vastly different from all other plant life.

This list of meat-eating plants comprises all six distinct types of carnivorous plants, including pitfall traps, flypaper traps, snap traps, bladder traps, lobster-pot traps, and combination traps. Through various means, plants like Sundew, Venus Flytraps, and Utricularia Vulgaris wait for an oblivious insect to fly or step into their traps, and it's nutrient city from there. Find the ones you consider to be the most interesting down below and don't forget to vote it up to see which one stands as the craziest meat-eating plant in the world!

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    Butterwort

    Scientific Name: Pinguicula gigantea

    Details: The Pinguicula gigantea is a tropical species of carnivorous plant found throughout many areas of Mexico, and is often called a "Butterwort." The plants have a colorful flower, which is most often purple but has been seen in shades of light blue, and sometimes, white.

    The leaves of the plant are used in its carnivore activities, as they are coated with a sticky mucilage secreted from trichomes (plant hairs). Insects are attracted to the plant, and once they land on the leaves, they become trapped in the gooey secretions, which digest them for their nutrients.

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  • 2

    Bladderwort

    Scientific Name: Utricularia aurea

    Details: Bladderworts are highly specialized carnivorous plants consisting of more than 200 different species. They are highly prized for their beautiful flowers, though they are also fascinating for their unique means of prey capture and digestion.

    The Golden Bladderwort is one of the most widespread species found in Asia, with its range extending from India to Japan and Australia. Bladderworts have what is arguably the most sophisticated trapping mechanism of all the carnivorous plants due to the use of vacuum-driven bladders (pictured).

    The bladders excrete a mucilage, which is produced in the outer cells, but mostly under the "door." At that location, the plant secretes additional sugars it uses to attract prey, which consists of tiny protozoa and rotifers, which routinely swim in the water-saturated soil the plants call home.

    Once the "door" is disturbed, the bladder walls spring back to a rounded shape, which effectively sucks in a column of water and whatever prey happens to be inside. The prey is then digested via digestive secretions inside the bladder, which takes a few hours, though some bladders have been found to contain protozoa alive for days inside the trap.

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    Cobra Lily

    Scientific Name: Darlingtonia californica

    Details: While the name suggests these plants are members of the lily family, they aren't related at all. Their name comes from the shape of the flower, which resembles the hood of a cobra.

    There are numerous examples of Cobra Lily with the California pitcher plant being the most common. Unlike most pitcher plants, it doesn't collect rainwater to use as a trap. Instead, it pulls water up from its roots.

    To digest the captured insects, it relies on symbiotic bacteria and protozoa to break down the solid matter. Additionally, it secretes a proteolytic enzyme, which helps to digest captured prey.

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    Sundew

    Scientific Name: Drosera capensis

    Details: Sundews make up one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants, as there are nearly 200 identified species. They are often prized by collectors and naturalists, and one of the most prized is the Drosera capensis (pictured).

    While there are many species of Sundews, they all work in pretty much the same way. The plant is covered in brightly-colored tentacles, which secrete a sticky mucilage. When an insect touches one of these, it becomes trapped, and the plant physically reacts by rolling lengthwise toward the center.

    Doing this aids in digestion of the prey, as it brings more of the plant's digestive glands into contact with the insect. Digestion can take as long as six hours, and once it's complete, it will unfurl itself to await more prey.

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