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Carnivorism and plants

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Drosera binata
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

Many fungi are carnivorous (Lloyd, 1942). Among higher (vascular) plants, seven families include carnivorous species (Table). The seventh, Dioncophyllaceae, was added to the list just recently because of one of its members, Triphyophyllum peltatum (Green, 1979). Carnivorous behaviour probably exists among many other plants as well, albeit to a lesser extent (Simons, 1981). Recent research has even shown that there are plants whose seeds are covered with a mucous layer able to attract, kill and digest tiny organisms like mosquito larvae, protozoa, etc. (Barber, 1977). This gives them an advantage in germination and early growth. Are these some rare tropical plants? Not at all. The phenomenon was discovered in shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), one of the most common weeds in our cities.

References:

  • Barber, J.T. Interactions Between Mosquito Larva and Mucilaginous Plant Seed, Mosq. News, vol. 36, 1976, p. 301-307.
  • Lloyd, F.E. The Carnivorous Plants, Mass., Chronica Botanica Company, 1942, 352 p.
  • Simons, P. "How Exclusive Are Carnivorous Plants?", Carnivorous Plant Newsletter, vol. 10, 1981, p. 65-68.

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