Carnivorous plants may seem like something out of science fiction, but they do exist and tend to eat bugs and tiny animals.
Scientists have discovered a strange new species known as Nepenthes Pudica that catches its prey in a way unique to these plant species.
This newly identified plant is known as the pitcher plant because of the mutated leaves it uses to trap prey – with a deep bulbous cavity that contains digestive fluid at the bottom.
“We found a pitcher plant that is markedly different from all other known species,” says botanist Martin Dančák of Palacký University in Olomouc in the Czech Republic, who is the study’s lead author. statement.
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Unique carnivorous plants have been discovered in Indonesia. The photograph shows the lower jugs found under the moss bedding (left) and the lower jugs recovered from the scrap cavity.
Pitcher plants usually create traps above ground on the soil surface or on trees so that the insects are drawn in and linger.
The insects then dissolve in the digestive juices at the bottom of the cavity.
However, N. pudica differs from other similar plants observed by botanists in that its traps are set underground.
“This species accommodates its up to 11 cm long [4.3-inch] pitchers underground, where they form in cavities or directly in the soil and catch animals that live underground, usually ants, mites and beetles,” Danczak says.
The recently identified carnivorous plant is known as Nepenthes Pudica. In the photo, a detail of the lower jugs from the ground (left) and the lower jugs dug under the roots of trees.
The unique way it captures prey may have given it an evolutionary advantage. In the photo, male flowers (left) and a male plant with flowering (right).
The jars keep their size underground and are often reddish in color.
“Interestingly, we found a variety of organisms living inside the pitchers, including mosquito larvae, nematodes, and a species of worm that was also described as a new species,” explains Vaclav Cermak from the Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic, who also participated in the research. research group.
This unique way of catching prey may have given this particular species an evolutionary advantage.
The species was first discovered back in 2012 on the island of Borneo in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan. In the photo (left) is the inflorescence, which refers to the fruits obtained from the reproductive part of the plants, and the female plant (right) with the inflorescence.
“Potentially strong competition for prey and possible ecological constraints in the undergrowth (such as droughts on ridgetops) can be avoided by moving the traps underground,” the researchers explain. Photo: rosette jar for Nepenthes Pudica juveniles (left) and upper jars (right).
“The life strategy of Nepenthes Pudica can be seen as a beneficial evolutionary adaptation. Because carnivorous plants are highly dependent on prey for organic nutrients needed for reproductive success, strong selection pressures may have affected traits associated with prey capture,” the researchers state in their journal paper. PhytoCase.
“Therefore, the potentially strong competition for prey and possible ecological constraints in the forest undergrowth (such as drought affecting ridgetops) can be avoided by moving the traps underground,” they continue.
The species was first discovered back in 2012 on the island of Borneo in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan.
“This discovery is important for the conservation of Indonesian Borneo,” says one scientist. In the photo, a habitat with an adult plant (left) and a habitat with lower pitchers dug out of the soil (right).
The researchers hope their work will inspire further efforts to conserve these biodiverse parts of Indonesia. Pictured are habitus (A), lower pitcher (B), infructescence (C), male inflorescence (D), and detail of a climbing stem with leaf (E).
During a trip to the area, researchers saw plants that were non-Penthes but did not produce pitchers.
As they continued to explore the area and found more, they eventually realized that they had discovered a species that targeted an underground environment.
“This discovery is important for the conservation of Indonesian Borneo as it highlights its importance as a hotspot of global biodiversity.
“We hope that the discovery of this unique carnivorous plant can help protect the Borneo rainforest, especially preventing or at least slowing down the transformation of pristine forests into oil palm plantations,” concludes Vevin Tyasmanto of Yayasan Konservasi Biota Lahan Basah, who helped discover the new view. .
The scientists published their work in the journal PhytoKeys.