Carnivorous plants don’t actually eat meat, but they do catch small animals like insects or spiders. These plants eat animals because they don’t find as many nutrients in the soil. How they catch these animals can vary greatly.
These plants grow in all parts of the world except Antarctica. They need a lot of sun and water, so they are rarely found in deserts or rainforests. They thrive in soil that is too acidic for other plants or too poor in nutrients, for example in bogs. Otherwise, they wouldn’t stand a chance against other plants because they grow rather slowly.
About a quarter of the more than 600 species are threatened with extinction. That is why they are protected: you are not allowed to dig them up and take them home with you. But there are companies that grow such plants specifically to be sold. Keeping these plants is not always easy because they do not tolerate hard water or fertilizers, for example.
Many people find the idea of a carnivorous plant very interesting because animals usually eat plants and not the other way around. In the 19th century, tall tales arose that some plants even eat people. Such plants also appear in science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. They are usually much larger and have a different way of catching their prey than the carnivorous plants that actually exist.
How do plants catch their prey?
Most carnivorous plants have traps for insects or similar small animals. An insect then falls between leaves, which form a kind of cavity. Because the walls are smooth, they can’t get out. Other plants have sticky spots that the animals can’t get rid of.
Rare, though more well-known, are the plants that become really active when catching: the Venus flytrap and the water trap have leaves that collapse suddenly when an insect gets between them. The insect can no longer escape.