Bogs are nutrient-poor wetlands covered in large accumulations of partially decayed vegetation matter known as peat. The peat-covered soils are acidic and cool with low oxygen availability and low nutrient levels, much like the surface water covering the bog. Due to this low availability of nutrition in bog lands, many plants in these ecosystems have evolved methods to absorb nutrients from sources other than the soil. This adaptation has resulted in what is known as, carnivorous bog plants.
Purple Pitcher Plant
The Purple Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous plant that has a tall tube-like structure, resembling a pitcher. The liquid inside the pitcher emits a sweet odor that the plant uses to attract insects. When an insect slips into the pitcher it falls into a solution of water and digestive enzymes, which the plant uses to dissolve the internal organs of the insect. The Pitcher Plant then absorbs the nutrients and minerals of the insect through the walls of the pitcher.
Bladderworts are another carnivorous bog plant, but they float freely on the water. Bladderworts have no roots, and their flowers stand erect above the surface. Unlike the carnivorous Pitcher Plant, which does not move to catch its prey, the Bladderwort has moving parts under the surface of the water. The underwater leaves of the Bladderworts are bloated and lined with many sensitive bristles. When a tiny minnow or small insect brushes against the bristles, the bladder expands and sucks in more air, trapping the prey to be digested in an enzyme solution and used for nutrients by the floating plant.
Our third carnivorous bog plant also uses moving parts to trap digest its prey, it is known widely as the Sundew. There are at least 188 known species of Sundews. The many shining droplets on the plant's leaves resemble dew glistening in the sun, and this is how the plant attracts its insect prey. When a thirsty fly lands on a leaf of the Sundew it will immediately find itself unable to escape from the sticky leaf surface. The plant will then wrap its tentacles around the prey and cover it in digestive fluids, slowly sucking the nutrients out for the plants own use.
The most famous of the carnivorous bog plants is the Venus Flytrap. Easily recognizable by the giant gaping mouth-like trap, the Venus Flytrap uses sweet-smelling nectar to attract insects into its jaw-like leaves. When an insect lands, hoping to find something to eat, they come into contact with one of the many trigger hairs inside the trap. Suddenly the jaws of the plant slam shut, trapping the insect inside to be digested for nutrients. After a few days the jaws reopen and the trap is sprung again.
Unusual Adaptations of Plants
In order to survive, every living organism must develop some sort of adaptation to their environment and plants are no exception. As...