How Does a Pitcher Plant Digest Insects?

Julia | 05 - 03 - 2020
How Does a Pitcher Plant Digest Insects?

Pitcher plants digest insects with the help of digestive enzymes.

Once the insect gets inside the plant, sarracenia produces digestive juices through the walls. It breaks down the insect and absorbs the nutrients. The plants essentially get nitrogen from the insects. The wall of the pitcher plant is also able to absorb few nutrients and send them directly to the rhizome.

How Does a Pitcher Plant Eat Insects?

The insect stays inside the plant forever as the plant is not able to break down its food completely. Once the pitcher is dried and falls off from the plant the insect remains are eliminated and goes to the soil.  The pitcher plant may catch more than one insect at a time but cannot digest them all. This is why some of the pitcher plants turn brown at the stem as the digestive system stops the process as there are more than enough nutrients for the plant. It is noticed that usually the plants kept outdoors tend to catch too many insects.

1. What Is the Largest Pitcher Plant in the World?
  • A. Sundew
  • B. Venus Flytrap
  • C. Fly Paper
  • D. Nepenthes rajah

Types of Pitcher Plants

There are around 80 types of pitcher plants under the genus Sarracenia, Nepenthes, and Darlingtonia. These are the pitcher plants to name a few.

Canebrake Pitcher Plant:

This is one of the endangered pitcher plants vibrant in color which grows in the spring season.

Pale Pitcher Plant:

 It’s an attractive yellow plant with 18” stalks. It is found in Alabama and Texas.

Yellow Trumpet Pitcher Plant:

It’s a greenish-yellow flower which can grow up to 30’’ tall. Very attractive and the flower resembles a trumpet.

White Top Pitcher Plant:

This grows in fall and has beautiful red flowers

Tarnok’s Double White Top Pitcher Plant:

This looks out of the world with its white and red-veined pitcher and double sepal red flowers

Green Pitcher Plant:

This is also an endangered plant found in parts of North Carolina. It is one foot tall and is covered with a green hood.

Pitcher Plant Facts

Pitcher plants eat only insects and small animals

Pitcher plants can be grown as houseplants

Some insects like mosquitoes and frogs coexist with pitcher plants for food and shelter.

Some pitcher plants have leaves at the bottom of the stem

Nepenthes rajah is the largest meat-eating pitcher plant in the world. It grows 4.9 feet tall and has an 11.8 inches diameter which can lure and capture even rats.

Some of the pitcher plants are poisonous and are banned from growing at home.

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