|Longleaf pine savannah, Louisiana|
|A venus flytrap in situ at the Green Swamp|
I have lived most of my life in the southeastern United States, and I have had the privilege of seeing many different types of carnivorous plant in the wild in North Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana. Plants develop carnivory as a means to get more nutrients on poor soils. Simply put, this strategy doesn't pay on better ground. Snap traps, sticky trap, or pitcher, these plants all must expend energy to build these contraptions. While flytraps are rather limited in distribution, sundews and pitcher plants can be found along much of the Atlantic coast and in the Great Lake states.
|A sundew (no, that isn't my hand and no, I didn't pick it)|
|classic pitcher plant|
Sundews capture their prey with a sticky trap mechanism- what looks like dew is actually an adhesive. Once an insect is caught it will not be released. The venus flytrap, cousin to the sundew, is instead reminiscent of a steel trap. Once an insect brushes its trigger hairs, the jaws snap shut and imprison it.
Pitcher plants are less closely related, and their traps are much more passive. An insect falls in and is slowly dissolved in an enzyme bath at the bottom of the pitcher. Should it try to climb out, downward facing hairs trip it up and hinder its escape.
|Another type of pitcher plant. Notice the hair.|
|A blooming pitcher plant|
|Longleaf pine savannah, North Carolina|