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Pitch Me a Plant!

In the damp, shady rainforest, you might find these mysterious upside down bell-shaped plants. They are called pitcher plants. They are an oddity of the rainforest because they are carnivorous. Yes, they are plants that eat meat! They get nutrients from their meaty meal but they still use sunlight to make their food.

The upper inside of the pitcher plant has a slippery coating. Have you ever tried running up a wet water slide? Imagine a slippery slide and no rails at the side to hang on to. That’s what it’s like for the insects and small creatures unlucky enough to fall inside a pitcher plant. The lower inside of the pitcher plant is filled with a thick liquid produced by the plant.

When the creature can’t crawl back out, it drowns in this liquid. The liquid contains enzymes that break down the prey. As the prey rots and falls apart, the plant soaks in the nutrients.

Usually pitcher plants eat insects, but larger species may catch bigger things, such as rats and lizards. Don’t worry, they don’t grow big enough to catch kids for dinner! 

Flask-shaped Pitcherplant - Nepenthes ampullaria - Tanjung Puting National Park - Kalimantan - Borneo - Indonesia
Slip into some more: Pitcher Plants

Rainforest Kids Science curriculum connection: Unit 4: Chapter 1, Lesson 3, Grade 4

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