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Introduction: The ecology of carnivorous plants

Animals eating plants – big deal.
Plants eating animals – now that’s more interesting!


But when plants eat animals, they don’t do it because they’re hungry. All carnivorous plants are green, which means they can use sunlight to make and store their own energy in the form of sugars. When plants trap animals, they’re after something else: minerals, especially nitrates and phosphates. In other words, fertilizer.

Carnivorous plants have adapted to life in nutrient-poor areas, like bogs. They can survive better there because they obtain nutrients from additional sources, in particular small animals, most often insects. There are some native carnivorous plants in Europe, like the sundew Drosera, the butterwort Pinguicula, and the bladderwort Utricularia. However, the centres of diversity of these plants are located in Southern Africa and Australia. The storied Tepuis, the unusual tabletop mountains in southern Venezuela, are also especially rich in these fascinating plants. In these regions, carnivorous plants are often found on wet quartz sands, which, like bogs, are very poor in nutrients.



Audio file download
Introduction: The ecology of carnivorous plants (MP3, 592 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg