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Pitcher-plant

The pitcher-plant is a self-seeding perennial herbaceous plant, some 35 centimetres (14 in.) high, with magnificent dark red flowers and leaves adapted… to catching its preys. The pitcher-plant is indeed what is known as a carnivorous plant or, more precisely, an insectivore. It grows in the wetlands of the boreal forest, mainly in the peat bogs, where it can find the acid soil to which it has adapted. Geographically, it is to be found mainly in the east of the American continent.

The leaves of the pitcher-plant are efficient traps. Shaped like pitchers, they naturally hold rain water, the inside of the leaves is covered with hard hairs that point downwards and that “assist” the insects attracted by the sweet odour of the liquid to come on down, but make it almost impossible for them to climb back out. After they have tried in vain to escape, the exhausted insects drown in the liquid at the bottom of the leave and are then digested by the plant’s enzymes.

Curiously enough, these plants do not bring death to every insect for, in fact, some are adapted to it and can live inside the plant, in a larval state. Diptera (flies) lay their eggs in the pitcher-plant leaves, and the larva, instead of being digested by the plant, finds nutrients essential to its development in the liquid itself. Nature has some remarkable surprises for those who look for them!

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