CLAUDE NURIDSANY & MARIE PERENNOU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY. CLAUDE NURIDSANY & MARIE PERENNOU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.
The urnlike insect trap of the carnivorous pitcher plant, Nepenthes madagascanensis. The pitcher (up to 30cm high) is an elaborate extension of the midrib of the leaf, which forms an insect trap. Its bright colours (often red) & the scent of nectar attract insects. The lid, closed during early development, opens at an angle to prevent rain filling the urn. Insects fall into the pitcher & drown in the sugary liquid produced by the plant & which contains digestive enzymes. Their digested bodies provide nitrogen compounds & proteins to the plant, which are absent from the poor soils they grow in.
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