Tentacular spectacular

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 Image: Satu Suro/Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Satu Suro/Wikimedia Commons.

All plants are fascinating, but some are more fascinating than others (to misquote George Orwell, English novelist and journalist). And what is more fascinating than a new insight into the world of the carnivorous plant, such as that provided by Simon Poppinga and colleagues? Despite appearances to the contrary, not all of those bejewelled, dew-dropped, sun-light-catching tentacles within the glistening ‘disc of death’ that frequently typifies the insect-trapping ends of leaves in the carnivorous sundews (Drosera species) are alike. Indeed, Poppinga et al. have shown that touch-sensitive ‘snap-tentacles’ of D. glanduligera – near the edge of the tentacle tangle – catapult prey into the mass of sticky tentacles where they become adhered and trapped. Those latter tentacles more slowly convey the hapless victim – as if on a conveyor belt of death – towards its ultimate digestive fate. This combination of ‘snap-and-trap’ adds yet another dimension to the bizarre world of these fascinating zootrophs.

For more on this story, visit http://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2012/pm.2012-09-27.253-en?set_language=en, where you’ll find a link to a video of the phenomenon.

 


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