Odd Behavior Garden

Carnivorous plants undoubtedly present the greatest de­viation from normal plant behavior. The pitcher plant (Sar-racenia) is one of these. The leaves of this plant are pitcher-like. Insects are lured inside the pitcher by a honey secretion, only to find it a one-way street lined with little hair-like prongs pointing downward. Once inside they are drowned in a diges- tive liquid in the bottom of the stalk and absorbed. The plant quite literally "eats" the bug.

The cobra orchid (Darlingtonia) is another member of the Sarracenia family. The terminal hood at the top of the stalk is supposed to resemble the hooded cobra, hence its name. Its feeding technique is like that of the pitcher plant.

The habits of the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) are similar, although the trapping trick is different. In this plant the two-lobed leaf, edged with long curved bristles, is the trap. When an insect lights on it the leaf clamps down on its prey and holds it tightly until digestive fluids gradually dissolve it for absorption into the plant. Then the trap opens for another victim.

Color in Garden - Plate 11b

All of these plants may be grown indoors in shallow bowls of sand and leafmold, and can be hand-fed tiny bits of ham­burger, flies and other insects. The Venus flytrap has added entertainment value in that it will grab and try to hold anything that touches it-a pencil or even a finger, as well as food.

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