And while I'm here, you talk about animals every day, and fungus comes up a great deal too, but the plant kingdom doesn't seem to get as much airtime on this blog. Are there any cool plants you can talk about?
Nepenthes bicalcarata is a pitcher plant with evil looking fangs that also happens to live in mutual symbiosis with a species of tiny, amphibious ant found nowhere else. The ants live in the stem, come and go from the liquid pool and help rip apart insect prey.
Aldrovanda vesiculosa, the “waterwheel plant,” is an aquatic relative of the Venus fly trap, each tiny trap just the right size to catch a single water flea. The part that amazes me the most is that this is an unrooted, floating plant, which may not be unusual for aquatic plants, but for a carnivorous plant it’s pretty cool, cause a predator that lets water carry it around until prey blunders into it is also how we can describe a Portuguese Man O’ War.
Hydnora africana is one of my favorite parasitic plants and carrion flowers, which are two LOOONG lists that cross over quite a bit. Most of it is underground, feeding on the roots of a host plant, but these utterly monstrous looking flowers break out of the surface and reek like rotten flesh to attract corpse beetles. The beetles get trapped at first, covering themselves in pollen for a few days, then the flower finishes opening and lets them out.
And then there’s the genus Roridula, covered in sticky hairs and home to a flightless assassin bug which, like the pitcher plant ants, lives nowhere else.
The plant itself isn’t directly carnivorous, but when insects get stuck to its leaves,the assassin bugs feed on it and then poop into the plant!
I also love ALL the species of wasp and bee-mimic orchids. Instead of producing nectar as a reward for insect pollinators (losing nutrients in the process), they trick bees and wasps into trying to have sex with their flowers. They get pollinated and the wasps get absolutely nothing.