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Plant that can capture and digest live prey (normally insects), to obtain nitrogen compounds that are lacking in its usual marshy habitat. Some are passive traps, for example, the pitcher plants Nepenthes
. One pitcher-plant species has container-traps holding 1.6 l/3.5 pt of the liquid that digests its food, mostly insects but occasionally even rodents. Others, for example, sundews Drosera
, butterworts Pinguicula
, and Venus flytraps Dionaea muscipula
, have an active trapping mechanism. Insectivorous plants have adapted to grow in poor soil conditions where the number of micro-organisms recycling nitrogen compounds is very much reduced. In these circumstances other plants cannot gain enough nitrates to grow. See also leaf
Near-carnivorous plants are unable to digest insects, but still trap them on their sticky coated leaves. The insects die and decay naturally, with the nutrients eventually becoming washed into the soil where they finally benefit the plant.
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