SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The insectivorous nepenthes plants are epiphitic plants that grow on the branches of trees common in Australia, the Phillipines and Malaysia. The brightly coloured pitchers, or glass-shaped receptacles, develop at the end of the leaves in shades of red, green or mottled in order to attract small insects such as mosquitoes and ants. These insects supply the nitrogen the plant needs and which is often lacking in the equatorial soil of their habitat. Odorous substances lure the prey into the pitchers where there are thousands of microscopic fibres and a sticky fluid containing a digestive enzyme Research is ongoing to to see whether these liquids can be developed into eco-friendly pesticides.
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