Venus flytraps and pitcher plants! These carnivorous plants eat insects as part of their diet.
Within the Western Cape there are ±20 species of Drosera. This high diversity of carnivorous plants is caused by the poor nutrient soils found in the Cape. Carnivorous plants, which have adapted to harsh environments through unique and complex ecology, are some of the most vulnerable species to extinction, because if any part of their complex life cycle is disrupted, they cease to exist.
At Flower Valley Farm, there are two species of carnivorous plants, from the genus called Drosera, namely D. cistiflora and D. capensis (sundews). Drosera species grow mostly in water seepage are that have acidic soils and are poor in nutrients. The fact that their habitat is within nutrient poor environments, means that these plants need to obtain nutrients from a different source to survive.
These plants supplement their nutrients by of capturing insects using modified wet and sticky hairs. These tentacle looking structures are tipped with a drop of sticky fluid, which catches insects that land on the leaves- just like a spider’s web.
A rapid multiplication of cells on one side of the leaf results in a curling of the leaf around the insect. Drosera releases a chemical (enzymes) from the sticky fluid that digests the insect and allows for the nutrients, which are essential for their daily survival, to be absorbed directly through the leaf.
Drosera has been historically used by Europeans to treat various ailments. They have been used as a treatment for warts and sunburn whereby the extracts were applied externally and for disorders such as tuberculosis, asthma, coughs and toothaches by consuming extracts or tea from the leaves. They are also used as pot plants, because they are one of the hardiest carnivorous plants and for their aesthetic appeal.