Nature is characterized by diverse populations of organisms with different characteristics in their lives. Millions of species are occupying the earth where each of them show distinctive features from others. Scientists have studied these organisms together with their relationships and their significance in the environment. Some of them have shown unique features by the way they grow and how they obtain nutrients. As categorized by ancient researchers, the Kingdom Plantae consist of several phyla, species as well as genera. Carnivorous plants also known as insectivorous organisms are a branch of plants’ kingdom. This is the most fascinating group of plants the world has ever known due to their natural behaviors that enormously differ from those of normal plants.
Carnivorous plants depend on insects as their prime source of nutrients crucial for survival. They capture specific prey using their traps to supplement them with the necessary components for growth. It may sound eerie but these organisms occupy nutrient-poor soils then there is a need for them to feed on insects. After trapping their prey, by encapsulating them, enzymes are produced to digest them to absorb dissolved nutrients. The process of capturing prey entirely depends on receptive hairs on the traps that sense stimuli. Carnivorous plants have all the properties of normal plants including photosynthesis, reproduction, and pollination.
Insects play a key role in the process of pollination where pollen are transferred from one plant to another to induce fertilization. It can be hard to imagine how the process occurs in these insectivorous plants. Since they’re meant to feed on insects, how is it possible that the same insects are responsible for pollination? It sounds like a hard nut to crack, but, research has provided information on the relationship between these plants and their pollinators. Surprisingly, they do not feed on them as someone would suggest, instead, they’ve distinguishing mechanisms that aid in ensuring pollination occurs effectively. Even though there is not much information on this, studies have shown that pollinators of such plants are not their prey.
If carnivorous plants were to feed on pollinating insects, they would limit their existence. However, this is not the case because through evolution, they have developed mechanisms that help them to capture prey then simultaneously attract pollinators. The first mechanism is based on their structure whereby there is spatial separation of flowered parts and trappers. In such a case, flowers are located strategically above the ground to attract pollinators such as bumblebees. For this reason, they end up avoiding feeding on such insects which succor and control their reproduction. A perfect example is the bladder wort species that have their trappers underwater. They capture prey by inducing suction which pulls them into the trappers for digestion by enzymes.
The other mechanism involves the difference in timing of growth of flowers and trapping parts. In this scenario, flowered parts and traps develop at different stages of the plant’s growth cycle. Flowers develop first to allow pollination without posing a threat to insects responsible. Trapping parts sprout later to prevent the plant from suffering malnutrition. For this mechanism to be effective, there must be nutrients sustaining the plant before traps develop. Therefore, there’s need to grow on soil with a bit of higher nutrients’ concentration. The other effective way is by using different means of attracting prey as well as pollination agents.
A carnivorous plant may use various scents to attract prey and nectar in their flowers to attract pollinators. Differing colors also present a usable means to produce indications for both insects and prey. Pollinating agents are attracted to conspicuous colors which means they’ll be drawn to flowers whereas other insects will find themselves in the wrong places such as on the trappers.
This does not nullify the fact that carnivorous plants can accidentally feed on pollinating insects. It happens when small animals land on the traps but it’s not that common. Insectivorous species are found in marshes and bogs worldwide. Mississippi, California and other states in America serve as conducive habitats for them. There is not much information about these species and due to their fascinating feature, they’re under threat of extinction.
People are illegally picking them from their natural habitats which contribute to their low population. Changes experienced in the eco-system contribute to the alteration and loss of habitat. To ensure carnivorous plants survive, ensure you do not pick them from their natural habitats.