This carnivorous plant wraps up bugs into a tasty morsel

Originally published at:


One of these days I’m going to find the time to really study the sensory-motor circuitry of carnivorous plants and fungi. Their cells use similar mechanical and chemical receptors as animals and closely homologous ion channels to propagate the signals. I’d love to know how similar the connections between the chemical receptors sensing the prey and the motor proteins flexing the leaf are to neural circuits in animals


Well, that would be a problem, since the movements are not based on motor proteins. Mostly, is a question of differential cell growth (and partly turgor, at far as I recall).


Just spent a few minutes reading up. At the time scale of catching prey, movement is done with changes in turgor (as is short-term bends towards light). The motor proteins used in building plant cell walls are apparently uninvolved in the movement, but expansin proteins that control cell rigidity change to allow the cells to expand and contract to increase/decrease water.

Plants also do have myosin motor proteins, but learning whether actin-myosin movement is involved in the cell restructuring during turgor pressure changes would take longer than an acceptable coffee break


I first read that as “coronavirus plant.” The damn pandemic really is everywhere!


I came to say the same thing. I think it took me 3 looks to properly sort it.


Also, If you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that basically everything we know about the role of actin-mysin in plant cells is based on a few model systems. Mainly Arabidopsis, of course. Interestingly, few researchers even work in depth on carnivorous plants, at all!


Cape sundews (Drosera capensis) in particular should make good specimens because they’re among the easiest carnivores to grow. For most people they’re the perfect “beginner’s plant”. I even knew a grower who regularly had to go through his greenhouse and cut the flower stems as soon as they appeared. They produce seeds really easily and popped up in pots where he didn’t want them.


Is it weird that I’m wondering what all that sticky complex sugars sap tastes like? I bet its really good.


They produce seeds really easily and popped up in pots where he didn’t want them.

Have…have you spoken to him lately? I’m a little worried.


And @LutherBlisset, can I just sit here and listen to you two discuss this? Absolutely fascinating topic that I know far too little about!

ETA: and I just ordered a few seeds to try myself. Fun!


Carnivorous plants score are high on the Darwin scale of abominable mysteries, and as long as you steer clear of (sorry to say) US-produced documentaries, you’ll find really interesting videos on them which I find highly relaxing to watch.

Also, “carnivorous plants” include protozoa-trapping mosses, lasso-swinging fungi which trap nematodes, a shrew toilet, and other funny stuff which sounds like an entry of the Fuck Yeah Evolution tumbler from way back…

ETA: 10 to 12 around here, and the weekend belongs to family. Otherwise I would be quite motivated by your post to elaborate. CP have it all. Fastest evolutionary rates, fastest movement in the plant Kingdom, one of The longest-lasting flowers… And that’s just Utricularia.


SHREW TOILET!!! Holy crap so cute and yet so disturbing and yet SO CUTE! Boingboing for the win (and you too Luther) despite all the schlocky ads (not you Luther).


Botany is an area of science I feel quite ignorant in, which is fantastic because there is so much to learn!

Parasitic vine that acts as a telephone alert system

Gaia brain?

A vine that can “see” the leaves around it

Fascinating stuff!,


So, you did look it up, did you?

A close friend of mine is a specialist for Nepenthes, and knows the community. She’s seen plenty of the species, and knows at least two guys who probably have seen all known species, and found some new ones. Dedicated community, that!


Yeah, truly interesting stuff! That said, I usually scoff at the pop sci stuff because every single time, anthropomorphism hits. Which admittedly is fun, but from my experience a interesting discussion e.g. about the connection trees have with each other, over roots and mycorrhizal networks easily leads to jumped-to conclusions about a conscience, etc., and as easily escalates to rants about anything from GMO to mobile phone networks causing everything from the decline of insects over birds up to diabetes, cancer, or the current pandemic.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.