By: Sean Anderson
Within the family of carnivorous plants, there are some that take an unconventional route. These plants trap and consume their prey underground. At first glance, Genlisea Lobata looks to be an unassuming plant with bright green leaves and a purple flower, but what lies beneath is far more sinister. What would first appear to be long, pale roots, are actually leaves devoid of chlorophyll that contain small chambers with modified hairs to trap and contain organisms.
Typically found in tropical areas around South America and the coast of Africa, these plants, like their North American cousins the Venus Fly-Trap and Pitcher plants, live in sandy soils deprived of nutrients. Through their modified, subterranean leaves, Genlisea are able to capture microbes, such as protists, to obtain these essential nutrients.
As time goes on botanists are finding that other plants, such as the liverwort, operate utilizing the same mechanism. Although these plants might not be as theatrical as the Venus Fly-Trap when catching prey, Genlisea proves a force to be reckoned with nonetheless.