Image: Satu Suro/Wikimedia Commons.

Tentacular spectacular

 Image: Satu Suro/Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Satu Suro/Wikimedia Commons.

All plants are fascinating, but some are more fascinating than others (to misquote George Orwell, English novelist and journalist). And what is more fascinating than a new insight into the world of the carnivorous plant, such as that provided by Simon Poppinga and colleagues? Despite appearances to the contrary, not all of those bejewelled, dew-dropped, sun-light-catching tentacles within the glistening ‘disc of death’ that frequently typifies the insect-trapping ends of leaves in the carnivorous sundews (Drosera species) are alike. Indeed, Poppinga et al. have shown that touch-sensitive ‘snap-tentacles’ of D. glanduligera – near the edge of the tentacle tangle – catapult prey into the mass of sticky tentacles where they become adhered and trapped. Those latter tentacles more slowly convey the hapless victim – as if on a conveyor belt of death – towards its ultimate digestive fate. This combination of ‘snap-and-trap’ adds yet another dimension to the bizarre world of these fascinating zootrophs.

For more on this story, visit http://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2012/pm.2012-09-27.253-en?set_language=en, where you’ll find a link to a video of the phenomenon.

 

Nigel Chaffey

I am a botanist and former Senior Lecturer in Botany at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany I contributed the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ - and to Botany One - for almost 10 years. I am now a freelance plant science communicator and Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Spa University. I continue to share my Cuttingsesque items - and appraisals of books with a plant focus - with a plant-curious audience. In that guise my main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way) others about plants and plant-people interactions, and thereby improve humankind's botanical literacy. Happy to be contacted to discuss potential writing - or talking - projects and opportunities.
[ORCID: 0000-0002-4231-9082]

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