Carnivorous plants inferred by the term “insectivorous plant” are those plants that are adapted for luring, capturing, and digesting the prey using several means, such as pitfalls and traps. 

The method of trapping relies upon the individual plant species. Through sticky mucilage, most of the insectivorous plants attack their prey. 

The fundamental trait of every carnivorous plant is that they possess very few nutrients. They intend to get the nutrients they trap and kill the prey, such as insects. 

And after trapping using the digestion enzymes, they receive the nutrients from the trapped prey upon their need. 

1. Nepenthes pitcher plant (Nepenthes sp.)

Insect eating pitcher plants
Insect eating pitcher plants | Image Credit – istock
NameNepenthes sp.
LocalityPhilippines, Australia, South China, Indonesia
Unique traitEven grow and thrive in the cold areas and the nights near freezing level
FeedsInsects and small animals

It is inferred as one of the most dangerous carnivorous plants around the globe. It can grow up to 41 cm tall and 20 cm wide. Because of its body dimension, it can even catch animals as big as rats. 

The species Nepenthes is also known as the tropical pitcher plants or the monkey cups. It does much of its digestion via bacteria. They grow as climbing or scrambling vines. 

The primary distribution of this species includes the Philippines, Australia, South China, Indonesia, and many more. They grow in the wet lowlands tropical slope forest. 

Among many Nepenthes pitcher plants, Nepenthes attenboroughii is the largest pitcher plant species globally. 

A fascinating trait this species possesses is it can even grow and thrive in the cold areas and the nights near freezing level

They grow in the soil having poor nutrients. It could be why they evolved to lure, trap, and digest the animals near them. 

After trapping the insects, it does not achieve energy; instead, it gets potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. 

Because of its sweet nectar secretion and the smell, the insects and the small animals are attracted to it. The trapping mechanism of this plant species is unique. 

Once the plant traps the prey, the prey gets drowned in the watery fluid, covered with digestive enzymes. It takes adequate nutrients from the trapped prey during digestion. 

2. Drosera sp.

Drosera sp.
Drosera sp. | Image Credit – Pixabay
NameDrosera sp.
LocalitySouth America and Africa, Australia, Asia
Unique traitTentacles glitter in the sunshine
FeedsMosquito, fruit flies, and bloodworms

The plant associated with the Drosera genus, known as “Sundews,” is the most common carnivorous plant globally. 

The plant seems very attractive. These tentacles possess a sticky substance that gets glitter in the sunshine. Because of such traits of the plants, most insects get attracted to this plant. 

Most of the carnivorous plants have unique trapping procedures like the Drosera genus. When the insects land on the sticky plant’s tentacles, they are trapped. 

Once the insects get trapped, the tentacles reach close. Digestive enzymes are ready for work after trapping the insects by the plant species. 

They extract the nutrients from their prey. Nutrient extraction relies on how much the plant requires nutrients to thrive. 

Drosera is one of the ornamental plants that leads the largest genera among the carnivorous plants. 

The sundew plant is distributed principally in temperate and tropical regions including Australia. It possesses five-petaled pinkish or white flowers. 

The stem of this flower comprises the stem growing, ranging from 10 to 25 cm above the basal leaves. 

The Drosera daily plant species produce mucilaginous glands that cover their leaf surfaces. 

Image of Drosera species via https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-sundew-drosera-sp-leaves-20509258.html

3. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula
Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
NameDionaea muscipula
LocalityNorth and South Carolina to Florida and New Jersey
Unique traitVery stable in unusual trappings and digesting the prey
FeedsBeetles, ants, spiders, flying insects, and grasshoppers

Dionaea muscipula, embedded by the other term, “Venus flytrap,” is the common carnivorous plant species throughout the globe. It, too, possesses sweet nectar to lure the prey into its leaves. 

When the insects reach near the mouth of the plant through secretion of the digestive enzyme from the leaves’ gland, it breaks the insects, and from that prey (insect), it absorbs the nutrients as per its need. 

Since a few years, the plant is rare to find. It is scarce to see for those who want to keep the Venus flytrap as a pet plant. 

This plant is very stable in unusual trappings and digesting the prey. At the end of each leaf, two lobes aid the plant in trapping its prey. Its distribution ranges from North and South Carolina to Florida and New Jersey. 

It usually grows in acidic soil having poor nutrients, intending to enrich the nutrient the plant traps the prey and absorbs the nutrients upon its necessity. 

The primary prey of this plant entails beetles, ants, spiders, flying insects, and grasshoppers. 

Dionaea muscipula is a perennial and sun-loving plant whose lifespan is roughly 20 years or even longer. 

Venus flytrap is enlisted under the vulnerable category. Massive forest fires, habitat destruction, and over-harvesting have threatened it in recent years. 

4. Utricularia sp.

Bladderwort
Bladderwort | Image Credit – USDA
NameUtricularia sp.
LocalityAlmost grown everywhere, restricting Antarctica and some oceanic Islands
Unique traitNot differentiated well into the leaves, roots, and stems. 
FeedsCrayfish, insect’s larvae, small tadpoles

Species of Utricularia, known as Bladderwort, are considered the common carnivorous plant belonging to the Bladderwort family. 

The term” Bladderwort” embeds in this plant because of the presence of tiny bladder-like sacs, which are abundant in its stems and the leaves. 

It acts as a trap door having a vacuum effect on the insects. When the Bladderwort species trigger the tiny hairs, it is likely the trap door scene. 

The digestive enzymes found in the sacs break the insects that have been trapped. The traps remain highly sophisticated in this plant despite the tiny plant size.

This species can reach as long as 8 to 80 inches and 4 to 10 inches in height. The maximum abundance of this species lies in Australia and South America. 

Roughly 80% of the Bladderwort are terrestrial plants, while the remaining act as aquatic Bladderwort. It is almost grown everywhere, restricting Antarctica and some oceanic Islands. 

The bladderwort plant is a symbiosis with microorganisms that attract prey. Through this, it facilitates the digestion process by providing the enzymes of the small animals. 

Since it is an ornamental flower, people usually prefer cultivating it in their gardens. It is ‌ annual or perennial, depending upon the species. 

This species has a fascinating trait because it is not differentiated well into the leaves, roots, and stems. 

In the history of the plant kingdom, bladder traps are always considered sophisticated structures. 

5. Waterwheel plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa)

Image of Waterwheel plant
Image of Waterwheel plant | Image Credit – The Amazing Science
NameAldrovanda vesiculosa
LocalityAfrica, Asia, Europe, and Australia
Unique traitOnly species that evolved snap-trap carnivorous under the water 
FeedsSmall invertebrates

The waterwheel plant is the free-floating aquatic plant distributed in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. 

It is listed under Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

The plant prey trapping mechanism is inferred as the snap-trap, which aids in capturing the small aquatic animals. It comprises two lobes that enclose the prey when it comes near the plant species. 

This plant’s unique trait is that it is the only species that evolved snap-trap carnivorous under the water. 

Scientists depict ‌it as only one of the modern species today. It requires just 100 milliseconds to snap the leaves to close and tarp the aquatic invertebrates such as mosquito larvae. 

Because of its unique character, it comprises one of the largest and the most disconnected distributions among the flowering plants. 

Due to the destruction of the globe’s wetland habitat, this species is going under several threats, and the population has been in catastrophic decline day by day. 

It grows well in the acidic and shallow waters that possess poor nutrient freshwater swamps. It usually forms dense mats below the water surface and lacks roots.

6. Common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)

Common butterwort
Common butterwort | Image Credit – Flickr
NamePinguicula vulgaris
LocalityNorthern hemisphere ranging from North America to Siberia along with south and central America
Unique traitPassive trapper who uses its gradual movement to snare its prey  
FeedsMidges, aphids, and smaller springtails

Common butterwort is found in the moist ledges on shaded sandstone cliffs in the Apostle Islands, wet rocks, bogs, and banks. 

The flower blooms in early June, while the flowering continues throughout July. It has a yearly life cycle. The insects are usually caught in their slimy leaf surface. 

Its glandular leaves possess a sticky fluid upon which the insects and the small animals are attracted. Once they enter the leaf lobes through the sticky fluid, this plant traps the prey. 

Upon trapping the prey, the leaves curl down gradually around the prey, and there is a secretion of the enzymes by the sticky hairs of the leaf surface. It digests the prey to absorb the essential nutrients required for it.  

The primary distribution of the common butterwort is the northern hemisphere ranging from North America to Siberia along with south and central America.

But it is native to Alaska and British Columbia east to Newfoundland and Greenland. It is abundant in limestone bedrock, fens, alvars, and alkaline waters and easily identifiable since it possesses distinctive rosette leaves and prefers sunlight to partial shade. 

The common butterwort is a passive trapper who uses its gradual movement to snare its prey that comes around. 

It could be grown outside in temperate to warm regions. For this, site conditions look pretty imperative and significantly noted. 

The plants grow so tiny that it is unrecognizable for identification until it blooms. 

7. Cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica)

Cobra lily
Cobra lily | Image Credit – Flickr
NameDarlingtonia californica
LocalityUnited States of California and Oregon
Unique traitPresence of the translucent spathe
FeedsFlies and beetles

Cobra lilies are popular by several names, such as the cobra plant or California pitcher plant. It is distributed in the United States of California and Oregon. 

The name was introduced as the cobra lily because of hooded leaves resembling a fang set or the snake tongue. 

Using the nectar glands, when the prey is lured by this plant and trapped inside, the insects get confused by the colorless and translucent patches of the leaves. 

The prey could not escape since there is a slippery wall and downward pointed part in the leaf.

The forked tongue-like structure secretes nectar having high concentrations of the toxins. 

Because of the presence of the translucent spathe, this species is considered pretty unique. 

The pollination of this species is still a mystery. Its essential diet includes the caterpillars, and aphids, which eat and kill everything in its path. 

It is estimated to have a life span of two years. This species is perennial and commonly found in the wetlands. 

Several factors influence their population size, entails watering frequency, sunlight exposure, and temperature. 

Most troublingly, it causes an unpleasant sensation which is likely of the needles that strike into the mouth and tongue once they are consumed. It serves as a top predator in the natural ecosystem. 

For the effective growth of the cobra lily, moisture content is substantial. It is worth mentioning that its seed initiatives grow gradually, which reaches only 3 to 4 inches after three years’ time intervals. 

8. Albany Pitcher plant (Cephalotus follicularis)

Albany Pitcher plant
Albany Pitcher plant | Image Credit – Stock Vault
NameCephalotus follicularis
LocalitySouthwestern part of Australia
Unique traitOnly one of the species that is associated with family Cephalotaceae and it grows its non-carnivorous leaves to provide energy to the plant
FeedsAnts, beetles, small flies, and midges

The Albany Pitcher plant belongs to the family Cephalotaceae. For the first time, it was discovered in southern Australia. 

It is only one of the species that is associated with this family. It possesses two types of leaves entailing carnivorous pitcher leaves and non-carnivorous. 

The fascinating trait of the Albany pitcher plant species is it grows its non-carnivorous leaves intended to provide energy to the plant through the photosynthesis process. 

They could thrive from moderately warm summers to cool winters. It is also known as the fly-catcher plant or Australian pitcher plant. It is native to damp sandy or swampy terrain in the southwestern part of Australia.  

Its lifespan is over ten years. Albany Pitcher plant is a small and ornamental plant whose diet includes ants, beetles, small flies, and midges. Unfortunately, sometimes damselflies could also be trapped. 

The pitcher-like traps are covered and filled with digestive enzymes, which lure, trap, and kill the prey. 

9. Triphyophyllum peltatum

Image of Triphyophyllum peltatum | Image Credit – Flickr
NameTriphyophyllum peltatum
LocalityWestern Africa, and Liberia 
Unique traitPlant’s hook can grow roughly 70 meters
FeedsAvailable insects

Triphyophyllum peltatum is one of the largest carnivorous plants whose abundance is restricted to West Africa. 

It produces leaf types that entail lance-shaped, small leaves with hook termination, and carnivorous leaves. 

Shockingly, this plant could produce hooks that can grow roughly 70 meters‌. The leaves of Triphyophyllum peltatum stimulate the glands, ‌releasing the enzymes that aid in dissolving the prey. 

It is restricted to rainforests having uniform soil and climatic conditions. This plant is only found in the wild, acting as an excellent medicinal and antimalarial plant over the years. 

The seeds germinate during the rainy season. The flowers start to blossom during April and May.

10. Brocchinia reducta

Image of Brocchinia reducta
Image of Brocchinia reducta | Image Credit – Flickr
NameBrocchinia reducta
LocalityVenezuela, South America, Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela
Unique traitPlant is coated with scales that reflect highly in Ultraviolet light. 
FeedsAvailable Insects

It is the common carnivorous plant endemic to South America, and in some parts of Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela too. The leaves resemble the organ pipe.

The unique trait of Brocchinia reducta is it is coated with scales that reflect highly in Ultraviolet light. 

The loose scales act as a foothold for landing the insects, permitting them to slip in the water-filled cup. 

It lets the insects drown and eventually kill. Cup water produces a sweet odor that acts as a serving agent to attract ants and other insects. 

It is a rare tropical native species of Venezuela. The tight-pitcher-like structure is formed known as a “tank,” which collects rainwater. 

When the insects move towards the leaves, they fall into the water reservoir below and above. Upon the massive sunlight, the plant produces tall. 

The growth requires low mineral water (‌50 ppm or less). This plant can be used as a pet animal that needs protection from the frost and a suitable temperature above 70 degree F during the daytime. 

The habitat of most carnivorous plants varies from the acidic bogs to the alkaline pine barrens, streams with melting snow to tropical rainforests, and many more. 

It releases various scents and presents itself with bright colors to attract prey. Most of the carnivorous plants which emit the smell may be floral scents, cat urine, or carcasses

Concluding Remarks

Carnivorous plants naturally have the mechanism likely of the prey and the predator. Don’t you think so? Of course, they do. 

You may have wondered at the beginning how these carnivorous plants attract, lure, and prey on insects. 

We hope this article fulfills your information quench concerning the amazing traits of the carnivorous plants throughout the globe. 

Kalpana Ghimire holds a post-graduate degree in Environmental Science from Nepal. She possesses numerous research experiences working in water pollution, community forestry, environment conservation status, and wildlife ecology. She was an internee in the Department of Environment (EIA monitoring and auditing section) under the Government of Nepal. Kalpana Ghimire is an avid traveler, an enthusiastic wildlife researcher, and has a huge passion for working in the environment sector. She loves far traveling to the natural areas, conducting field wildlife research and reading the novels.