Carnivorous Plants

Pitcher plants

Pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.) at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens in Tampa.

Carnivorous plants have a unique strategy for finding nutrients in poor soil: they catch insects. Florida has dozens of species of carnivorous plants, more than any other state in the U.S. They're mostly found in the panhandle, but grow in bogs as far south as Central Florida.

There are several kinds of carnivorous plants: sundews, butterworts, bladderworts, and pitcher plants. They use appealing scents, leaves that trap insects, and sticky fluids that help imprison their prey. Then they produce digestive fluids that absorb the insect and its nutrients.

You can grow carnivorous plants at home. These wetland plants need a moist environment and lots of light. They're best grown outdoors in containers with a moist medium, or in rain gardens. They can also be grown indoors in a well-lit terrarium.

Many of these plants are native to Florida, but are threatened. Don't remove plants from the wild; only purchase plants grown by respectable retailers.

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