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Cephalotus follicularis

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The Albany pitcher plant Cephalotus has vessel shaped leaf traps between three and six centimetres in height. The whole plant is illustrated in botanical drawings and photographs. Cephalotus follicularis is the only plant in the order Oxalidales to have developed carnivorous habits, in a family with one genus and one species. It is found in only one place in the world, in the peaty swamps of western Australia, where there is little available nutrition in the soil.

How do traps work?

The cup shaped Cephalotus pitcher leaf has a central flange and two side wings with many hairs which guide crawling insects up the pitcher and towards the trap mouth as shown in the movie. The smooth, ridged, red coloured lining of the mouth secretes nectar to attract insects in. Vampire like fangs project over an acidic digestive pool. The prey, often ants, attracted by the nectar slip into the pool of digestive enzymes (including proteases, phosphatases and nucleases) secreted by glands at the base of the pitcher. The lid has windows of semi-transparent tissue allowing light to penetrate the interior of the trap. This confuses winged insects which become exhausted and fall in. Once an insect has fallen into the funnel like structure inside the trap an overhanging ridge prevents escape. The tapped prey is digested and its nutrients absorbed by the plant.

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modified on 26 June 2013 at 12:46 ••• 3,297 views