Tentacular spectacular

 Image: Satu Suro/Wikimedia Commons.


Image: Satu Suro/Wikimedia Commons.

All plants are fascinating, but some are more fascinating than others (to misquote George Orwell, English novelist and journalist). And what is more fascinating than a new insight into the world of the carnivorous plant, such as that provided by Simon Poppinga and colleagues? Despite appearances to the contrary, not all of those bejewelled, dew-dropped, sun-light-catching tentacles within the glistening ‘disc of death’ that frequently typifies the insect-trapping ends of leaves in the carnivorous sundews (Drosera species) are alike. Indeed, Poppinga et al. have shown that touch-sensitive ‘snap-tentacles’ of D. glanduligera – near the edge of the tentacle tangle – catapult prey into the mass of sticky tentacles where they become adhered and trapped. Those latter tentacles more slowly convey the hapless victim – as if on a conveyor belt of death – towards its ultimate digestive fate. This combination of ‘snap-and-trap’ adds yet another dimension to the bizarre world of these fascinating zootrophs.

For more on this story, visit http://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2012/pm.2012-09-27.253-en?set_language=en, where you’ll find a link to a video of the phenomenon.

 

About Nigel Chaffey

Nigel is a botanist and full-time academic at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany he contributes the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ. His main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an amusing, educational, and entertaining way...) about plants and plant-people interactions.