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Carnivorous plants

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Venus flytrap.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)  

"And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so." (Genesis 1, 30)

Or perhaps it wasn’t so. For there are plants on Earth that turn things upside down by eating small creatures. They have a characteristic that we normally associate only with members of the animal kingdom: they are carnivorous. Over the years, this obvious anomaly led human imaginations to come up with stories about man-eating plants attacking unsuspecting explorers!

In fact, there is not unanimous agreement about the use of the term “carnivorous” in this case, since it means “flesh eating.” The term “insectivorous” might be more appropriate, although other small prey not belonging to class Insecta are often captured as well (spiders, protozoa, etc.). Even small birds and mammals have been found inside some pitcher plants! But since these plants have long been termed “carnivorous” in popular parlance, we will use that term here.

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