Credit: Danilo Lima

First Carnivorous Plant Discovered In 20 Years Found In North America

Its dainty white flowers appear friendly, but its sticky stem helps the plant trap and make a meal of tiny insects.

Credit: Danilo Lima
Credit: Danilo Lima

For the first time in 20 years, an insect-eating plant has been identified on North America’s Pacific Coast. World, meet the carnivorous plant called the Triantha Occidentalis.

It’s apparently been right under our noses this entire time, too — sorry, little bugs.

So here’s how it lives each and every day:

The plant traps insects using the sticky hairs on its flowering stem. Although, how the researchers determined the plant was carnivorous is a bit more complicated. They used fruit flies labeled with nitrogen as a tracking device.

Sorry, little fruit flies.

Credit: Qianshi Lin
Credit: Qianshi Lin

Then, they collected the plants on which the flies landed and compared nitrogen levels in the plant to ones nearby. Upticks in nitrogen meant the plant absorbed the element from the flies — confirming it’s carnivorous.

The plant is found in boggy but bright areas on the Pacific Coast of North America from California to Alaska. Carnivorous plants are usually found in nutrient-poor areas like bogs, and so the plants have to get their nutrition from living prey.

The research team from the University of Wisconsin and the University of British Columbia in Canada are who figured all of this out. Also, they discovered that the plant traps insects on its stem using specialized sticky hairs that aren’t strong enough to catch bigger, pollinating insects.

You can read all about the new finding published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Additionally, a more complete study is planned to be published for the world see on Friday, August 13.

Not creepy at all, right?

Matt Sterner

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