Last week I went to the Botanical Gardens in the city. I actually visited the gardens to see the annual butterfly exhibit with one of my students. While walking around the largest greenhouse there was a selection of carnivous plants. I always find it interesting that some plants like humans like the taste of meat.
Drosophyllum is a genus of carnivorous plants containing the single species Drosophyllum lusitanicum (Portuguese sundew or dewy pine). In appearance, it is similar to the related genus Drosera (the sundews), and to the much more distantly related Byblis (the rainbow plants).
Drosophyllum lusitanicum is native to the western Mediterranean region (Portugal, Spain and Morocco), and is one of the few carnivorous plants to grow in dry, alkaline soils. The 20- to 40-cm (8- to 16-in) glandularleaves, which uncoil from a central rosette, lack the power of movement common to most sundews, but have the unusual characteristic of coiling ‘outward’ when immature (outward circinate vernation). The plant has a distinct sweet aroma, which attracts the insects upon which it preys. When insects land on the leaves, they find themselves stuck to the mucilage secreted by the stalked glands on the leaves. The more the insects struggle, the more ensnared they become, ultimately dying of suffocation or exhaustion. The plant then secretes enzymes which dissolve the insects and release the nutrients, which are then absorbed by the plant. The plant uses these nutrients to supplement the nutrient-poor soil in which it grows.
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