Home
Learn About the Tree of Life!
Elephant Shrews
Films
A Tree of Life Adventure Game!
Morphing Arachnids
Further Resources
Credits
Convergent Insect Eaters: Pitcher Plants

 

Convergent Insect Eaters: Pitcher Plants

Old-World Pitcher Plant

 

 

 

 

 

Plants that digest insects have evolved independently in several distantly related lineages, apparently as an adaptation to low-nitrogen soils.

 

The production of “pitchers” — tubular leaves that insects have a hard time escaping — occurs in several plant groups that until recently were thought to be closely related.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venus Fly-Trap and Cape Sundew

 

Now there is compelling evidence that they are quite separate — the pitcher plants of the New World (Sarraceniaceae) are closer to blueberries and kiwi fruits, while those of the Old World (Nepenthaceae) are related to other insectivores (the Venus fly-trap and the sundews), and in turn to knotweeds and carnations.

 

Pitcher plants and relatives

 

New-World Pitcher Plant

 

 

Click for the Previous SectionClick for the Next Section