In ‘Hungry plant traps worms underground’ (Nature, January 9, 2012), Katherine Rowland reports, “Hidden feeding strategy suggests carnivory is more common than was thought.”
A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences not only offers evidence that Philcoxia species are indeed carnivorous, but also explains why this trait had gone undocumented. P. minensis, researchers found, uses a unique nutrient-acquisition mechanism: its sticky leaves are hidden below the sand.
“This leads to the question of whether there are other carnivorous plants out there in families not known for carnivory,” says Peter Fritsch, a botanist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and co-author of both the latest study and the 2007 investigation.
Plant carnivory is known to occur in only 0.2% of flowering plant species. However, Fritsch and his colleagues suggest that this count may be an underestimate. In the words of Mark Chase, a botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK, and his colleagues, writing in a 2009 paper on carnivorous lineages, “We may be surrounded by many more murderous plants than we think.”
That awful monstrous space weed that your mother-in-law insists cleans the air probably does it by surreptitiously removing the meatballs from the slow cooker all day long … .
See also: A serious discussion of the evolution puzzle of carnivorous plants.
Also Geneticist W.-E. Loennig replies to Darwinist Nick Matzke: Which is more important: Darwin or facts?