Carnivorous Sarracenia pitcher plant, fly

Carnivorous Sarracenia pitcher plant, fly

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sarracenia leucophylla (possible hybrid), the white topped pitcher plant, with a fly on the inner lid. Found in the Southern US states of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The pitcher is a modified leaf, and insects are attracted to them by colour and nectar glands (extra-floral nectaries). The lid has backward pointing hairs that tend to channel the insect - bright 'windows' seem to increase confidence to go further. If the insect slips into the tube, downward pointing hairs impede travel upwards, and the smooth surfaces are slippery. Flying insects can generally not fly vertically out of the narrow tube. At the bottom of the tube is water with a variety of digestive enzymes and often a culture of macerating micro-organisms that will release the nutrients held in drowned insects. Principally the plant seeks nitrogen lacking in the waterlogged soil it grows in.

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Keywords: america, carnivorous, extra-floral, leaf, leucophylla, modified, nectaries, nitrogen, pitcher, plant, sarracenia, swamp

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