Carnivorous Plant Facts

Fun Facts about carnivorous plants

In a nutshell, carnivorous plants are plants that eat animals
(Stolen shamelessly from TheInfamousWolf on


Known as Sundews (Drosera), these plants have sticky tentacles on their leaves. When an insect lands on leaf, it immediately starts to struggle, triggering nearby tentacles to cover the prey and suffocate/digest it.

Rainbow Plants (Byblis) and the Dewy Pine (Drosophylum) are similar, but the tentacles don't move.


Are there any found in deserts?

The Drosophyllum of Spain and Morocco is found in arid hills and pinelands. Like swamps, there is very little nutrients in this soil so the plant makes up for it with carnivory.

The Drosophyllum is covered with sticky tentacles like a sundew, but the glue is even more oily than a sundew (helpful in smothering and suffocating it's prey quicker) and is known to catch prey as large as bees.

Further, some Pinguicula butterworts have been found growing in arid cliffs in Mexico and other Central American countries.


Are the digestive acids in carnivorous plants dangerous to humans?

An often-asked question, the answer is no unless you are an insect or lizard. If you stuck your finger in a pitcher plant (trying to avoid the corpses inside), nothing would happen. You would need to keep your finger in there for weeks to see anything happen but your body (still alive and healthy) would quickly replace any cells damaged by the plant.


What is the most dangerous carnivorous plant out there?

None of them are really dangerous, but the Nepenthes Villosa pitcher plant is certainly the scariest looking in my opinion.

Do I need a greenhouse to grow carnivorous plants?

Yes and No. Since carnivorous plants are found all over the world, a climate-controlled greenhouse would be perfect for growing rare varieties found in cool mountains or hot marshes. If one is serious about growing carnivorous plants, a greenhouse is worth a look. However, an average hobby-grower wouldn't need one because there are many species that aren't that strict about where they grow.


Found in the Genlisea plant, this is an interesting trap. Underground, the roots/traps are hollow with opening slits along the length. Small prey (mosquito larvae and such) enter these slits. However, sharp hairs point inwards, forcing the prey to the digestive chamber of the plant. Once prey enters trap, it's impossible to escape.


A recent discovery was a carnivorous bromeliad (brocchinia reducta). All bromeliads hold water in the 'tanks' separating their leaves. However, one bromeliad is evolving to become carnivorous. It's leaves are coated with wax, so prey slips off leaves into the water. Like the pitcher plant, it released a chemical to remove surface tension and has discovered to produce at least one digestive enzyme. There are other plants that have exhibited behaviors seen to be carnivorous and we may be seeing new CPs be born.


Known as butterworts (Pinguicula), these plants have microscopic tentacles covering their leaves. While the tentacles are small, if you were to run your finger across leaf, it would feel like it were covered in mucus. Any small flying insect to land on the leaf would get stuck and suffocate before a pool of digestive acids forms under prey and liquifies it.

Many are found in Europe, north Asia, America, and Central and South America. In fact, the most northern growing CP and the most southern growing CP are both butterworts (found in extreme arctic and the southern most point of South America)


Found in the pitcher plants (Sarracenia, Darlingtonia, Heliamphora, Cephalotus, and Nepenthes), this is possibly how the first carnivorous plants evolved. The basic idea is a hollow leaf filled with water/digestive fluids and any prey that falls in is drowned and digested. Some of these plants release chemicals that remove surface tension, causing small bugs to sink right to the bottom. The smallest pitcher plants are a few inches, the largest is known to eat rats and birds.


Carnivorous plants in popular culture

The film most people know carnivorous plants from is Little Shop of Horrors ("feed me Seymour!"), but they were also featured in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Batman and Robin, Day of the Triffids, Jumanji, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Ruins.


Are digestive enzymes a requirment to be carnivorous?

Good question. In this picture is the Cobra Plant (Darlingtonia) from California. It produces a complex pitcher plant with a snake-like hood, fangs, downward pointing hairs, etc. However, it doesn't produce a single digestive enzyme. Instead, it relies on bacteria to do the digestion. If one were to include any plant that receives nourishment from dead insects on/in it's leaves, the number of carnivorous plants would jump from 700 to well into the thousands.

This question is greatly debated among botanists.


Known on the Venus Fly Trap and the Waterwheel plant, the leaf is divided down the middle and when triggered will snap shut in less than a second. The Venus Fly Trap mostly eats flies and ants, but spiders usually become victims when they try to steal an insect from the plant.

The Waterwheel Plant (Aldrovanda) is basically an underwater Venus Fly Trap.


How many carnivorous plants are out there?

There are almost 700 species of carnivorous plants found all over the globe (minus Antarctica). While most people assume carnivorous plants to grow in dark and humid jungles, the widest variety are found in America (Venus Fly Traps, pitcher plants, sundews, butterworts, bladderworts, etc) are all found in America. Even Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific ocean has at least one species of carnivorous plant.


Where can I buy carnivorous plants?

There are many online stores and nurseries to buy from. You can also find some for sale at places like Home Depot, Lowes, etc but they are mostly sick due to the store's inexperience with growing them.

Here are some places to buy from:


Popular on the bladderworts (Utricularia), these small traps are one of the most amazing wonders in the botanical world. These small traps (the largest is half an inch long) will suck in nearby prey and trap it in mere microseconds (faster than one can even blink). Most eat mosquito larvae, but the largest traps are known to eat tadpoles (eating the tail and sucking in more and more until the prey is consumed).

However, most hobbyists grow these plants for their flowers which can rival orchids.


What about a terrarium?

As long as you provide decent light, proper soil, some humidity, proper watering, etc, you can grow some varieties almost anywhere.

In this picture is the OP's Nepenthes pitcher plant growing under a common desklamp.


Underwater carnivorous plants?

Yes, there are a few that grow underwater, namely the Waterwheel Plant (Aldrovanda) and the bladderworts. Their main prey is mosquito larvae. While the bladderworts rely on suction traps, the Waterwheel plant is a snap trap like the Venus Fly Trap.


Where do carnivorous plants live?

Carnivorous plants are carnivorous because of the environment they grow in. Almost all come from swamps/wetlands/marshes/bogs, etc. The ground is wet and low in nutrients. Some grow in water and a few in deserts.


If I see carnivorous plants in the wild, can I take one?

No. Most carnivorous plants are endangered for this reason alone. In fact, the Venus Fly Trap will probably go extinct in the wild within 20 years due to poachers looking to sell the world-famous carnivorous plant to tourists. If you see them in the wild, take pictures and leave them be.