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A Plant That Eats Bugs

In acidic wetlands in the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada you may find a small strange looking plant full of glistening dew drops. It thrives in bogs, fens and fresh water wetlands where the soil is acidic and poor in nutrients. Because not too many plants can thrive in this environment, there is little organic matter to decompose resulting in very little return of nitrogen to the soil, a vital nutrient plants need to grow.

So for a plant to survive, there needs to be a source of protein and the round leaf sundew is a plant that derives its need for nitrogen from insects. Its sticky dew prevents insects from leaving essentially causing the insect to get glued to the sundew’s leaf. The leaf slowly curls around the bug as digestive enzymes are released and dissolve the bug. Nitrogen is then absorbed by the leaf.

There are many species of insectivorous plants who earn their keep the same way. Often you will find spatulate leaved sundew and thread leaf sundew growing in the same areas. Both these species use the same process as round leaf sundew to obtain nitrogen. You may even find pitcher plant in wetter bogs that drowns insects in its digestive soup.

If you are ever out in a park that has acidic wetlands and see glistening leaves with a touch of red, you may have found these carnivorous plants.

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