Invasion of Flesh-Eating Plants

on Saturday, November 03, 2007

I love my B grade horror movies like the "Creature from the Black Lagoon". These movies are so bad and full of genre cliches that they are superbly fun. I just enjoy yelling at the characters in the movie things like, "Look out behind" or "Stay away from the water!" or even "Don't go down to the basement!"

Following up on Halloween, I thought of writing about flesh-eating plants. Even though "Invasion of Flesh-Eating Plants", may seem like a good title for a B grade horror movie, I am actually writing about bog plants which are specially adapted to the low nitrogen levels in such environments. These plants are specially adapted to catch insects, digest them and to get the nitrogen they need from such sources.

During my recent trip to Australia, I had the opportunity to visit Mount Tomah Botanic Garden which is located 1000metres above sea level and is nestled within the world heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains area. The garden contains over 40,000 plants arranged according to geographical location and is home to a large variety of native wildlife. It also had a wonderful artificially created bog which housed a collection of these wonderfully strange plants.

This first beauty is the famous Venus Fly Trap (Dioneae muscipola). It is actually very small. The specimen in this picture was probably about just 2 inches across. If however, you encountered one that was about 8 feet tall, then you would have a close approximation to the fiendish plant from the musical/comedy-horror show, "Little Shop of Horrors".

This second photo is of a plant that is found in most parts of Australia except Northern Territories and is called Fairy Aprons (Utricularia dichomata) and it's small traps are said to resemble ladies purses.

This final one is one of my favorites and is a species of Sundew (Drosera). The insects are attracted to the red, sticky glogs at the end of the hairs and are trapped. The leaves then curl inwards and the insect slowly digested.

(All photos by LGS)

They make great pets, don't cha think?


Tai said...

Carnivorous plants are SO personal favorites are the 'pitcher plants'.
Make you wonder about the evolutionary history of them, you know? said...

You had to have seen THE THING From Another world (c. l949)
James Arness was THE THING. Flesh-eathing THING.
Still scares me to this day.

...Kat said...

I love these plants!
what a great adaptation!

Anonymous said...

So "My little shop of horrors" must be a kind of heaven on earth to you! I like these Jack-Arnold-movies Tarantula, Formicula and The Swamp-Thing. Or the legendary Hammer-Productions with Peter Lorre (poor lad!) and Vincent Price ... but the best ever are the japanese monster-movies: When the mean lizzard stomps over the model-railway - simply gorgeous!
Sorry, can not say something about the plants. "Sonentau", "Sundew" is nice one.
Do you feat your plants ... ?

meggie said...

Our son was always fascinated by these plants & had some when he was young. I do believe they all died of neglect since he couldnt bear to catch the insects to feed the plants!

patterns of ink said...

In my reply to your comment today, I mentioned that I had some news for you. Here it is.
Friday I was invited to go on a medical missions trip to Thailand as the videographer. I used to have a video business and have experience making documentaries. Anyway, as my most cosmopolitan acquaintance, I wanted your advice on whether or not to go. I need to tell them this week. The trip is in January--for 15 days. Any thoughts? Does Thailand have carnivorous plants? I will be in the mountain, jungle region for many of the 15 days. =)

Josie said...

LGS, those photos are gorgeous. I have always wondered about carnivorous plants and how they evolved, as Tai says. It's amazing how nature creates a purpose for everything.

My brother once had a Venus Fly Trap plant, and it was really creepy to watch it.

Jocelyn said...

All you need is a leash and a plant biscuit, and they'd follow you anywhere.

I love these educational posts you do.

leslie said...

Intehestink plants *ho ho ho*

Methinks I'm hungry....

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH....I'm being digestttted...

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

We have a lot of pitcher plants in Malaysia. The small ones are even called monkey cups as the collect water and it is said that the monkeys drink from them. I am almost certain that is just a tale.

I haven't seen that one but I saw the remake of that starring Kurt Russel which for me is one of the best Sci-fi movies ever.

I think you would love Mount Tomay. I'll do a couple more posts on this place.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I like all the horror shows that you mentioned. Those Hammer shows used to rule the genre. Big lizards are okay in small doses. I prefer the dumb people who insist on going into dark places alone at night.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

There's a certain attraction to having unconventional plants. It's like a badge of distinction and identity.

Trip to Thailand sounds exciting. But what do you need to know to make up your mind? Thailand is relatively safe especially for males with the exception of the southern most province and the Yala region (Muslim insurgency) as well as near the burmese border (drug lords). Having said so, many people do travel in those areas without incident. Conditions can be basic in the jungle but not extreme. Ask me questions and I might be able to answer you better.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I think rearing these type of plants is more of a guy thing.

May I interest you in an attack trained watch-plant?

Don't make fun of the plants! Remember their cousins are everywhere! ;)

Janice Thomson said...

Gosh love those Fairy Aprons...they're very pretty too. Carnivorous plants are really fascinating. I'm with Tai wondering how that ever started with these plants. Excellent post Lgs.

patterns of ink said...

I will try to ask more specific questions when I know more, but you did a great job with the general info. I've only known about this for 48 hours, but it is looking likely that I will accept the invitation. Thanks for your excellent initial info. We will be working with the Aka tribe near Chiang Rai. Aka tribe
I just remembered that I have your email. I may send you something in a week or so.

Marja said...

Oh we have them in our botanical gardens as well. Well known by the children. They always pull my sleeve; let's see the venus fly trap marja. Great

MedStudentWife said...

I think sun-dews are rather pretty, tho' I've never grown any

I tried growing a Venus Fly Trap, once - but I think I fed it bad flies... it didn't live long.

The plant life on Saba is really interesting. I wish I had more time to explore it. I have a great book on medicinal plants used there, as well as some good photots I tookof plants I have no idea what there names are.

If you are going to do a B genre horror movie... I'll do the music for you...hmmm... once I get my 101 theremin done.

Cheryl said...

Your pictures are wonderful. I'm envious of your travels, but glad for the opportunity to share your journeys. Do you have plans for another trip?

Sarah Nopp said...

Have you seen the movie Dragon Wars?
My mom & my brother both called me to tell me to avoid it! They said the whole theater was cracking jokes at it and making fun of it like a live action Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Of course, that makes me want to see it, but with a group of friends and drinking wine.

Claire said...

They do make great pets! I have a venus fly trap in my special fire belly toad terrarium. It is quite lovely and will accept an occasional meal worm.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Pretty things entice men to their doom! Bwahahaha! Sorry, seemed fun to say that!

Chiang Rai is near the Burmese Border but a lot of tourists use it as a base for jungle tours. I hear that groups do cross into Burma (many illegally). The safety of those mostly depends on how experienced the guide is.

Sundew is my favourite cause it's red globs of sticky syrup are so pretty, sitting at the end of the red trigger hairs but attraction to its beauty can be fatal. I like the paradox of beauty and danger in one.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Sundews are my favorite too. Beauty and alluring!

glad to share my journeys too. But I think there's lots of adventure near you too.....even your own garden. I will be going to Thailand before end of november.

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