They are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods. However, carnivorous plants generate energy from photosynthesis.
Carnivorous plants have adapted to grow in places where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen, such as in acidic bogs. These plants can be found on all continents except Antarctica, as well as many Pacific islands.
Carnivory in plants has evolved independently about six times across several families and orders. The more than 600 known species of carnivorous plants constitute a very diverse group, in some cases having little more in common than their carnivorous habit.
The Venus flytrap digests and absorbs its prey, but how does it coordinate digestion and absorption to maximize the efficiency of this highly evolved mechanism? A new study that combines direct recordings from cells within the trap along with the molecular characterization of nutrient transport reveals a complex and coordinated suite of mechanisms that underlie this elegant process.
The ability to catch and digest insects allows insectivorous plants to acquire nitrogen and other nutrients in very low nutrient habitats.